The 2026 World Cup will be held between Mexico, Canada and the United States of America and will feature 48 teams

next one world Cup Looks big: After an edition in 2022 centered in the middle of the calendar and in one city, Doha, the event will take place in 2026. throughout the North American continentbetween Mexico, Canada and the United States, with the participation of 48 teams, for the first time.

With the 22nd edition of the World Cup ending on Sunday, the 23rd edition will begin in just three and a half years Almost a third of FIFA’s affiliated countries will participate in it, After three decades the tournament has been played in a 32-team format.

The number of nations participating in football’s biggest tournament has varied and expanded over time: from 13 teams in the first edition in 1930, to 16 until 1978, then expanding to 24 until 1994 and 32 since that edition.

This change embodies the first major overhaul of the FIFA President Gianni Infantino It was adopted in 2017, although it is threatened by the logistical challenges of staging 100 matches instead of the usual 64 since 1998. But for the most humble of nations, it is a great opportunity to be invited to football’s great event. Former Nigeria international Sunday Oliseh congratulated himself last week “For us Africans it’s a godsend”. “I always thought we should have more actors. The more we play it, the better our chances.

definition format

The new distribution by the confederations favors Africa and Asia: nine places (for the current five) for Africans; Eight (by 4.5) are for Asians, and one for Oceania, which has so far only had a place in the qualifiers.

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Considering the level of the African teams that were eliminated at the gates of Qatar 2022 (Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, …), the 2026 edition looks particularly exciting.

EuropeFor her part, she’ll go from 13 reps to 16 reps, South america From 4.5 to 6 f CONCACAF It will have a total of six teams (counting the three hosts), for 3.5 currently.

The format of the competition remains to be decided: initially, FIFA revolved around 16 groups of three teams each, with two groups classified by key and crosses from the round of 16. This format allowed teams to maintain the same maximum number of matches (seven for the final), totaling 80 matches, but there was a risk of agreements between teams to qualify in the third match of the first stage.

And on Friday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino confirmed that the federation wanted to reconsider this format in the “coming weeks”. “Here (in Qatar), the sets of four were absolutely amazing until the last minute of each match. We must reconsider it, at least discuss the format again, if there are 16 sets of three or 12 sets of four…”, he declared.

“Increase the number of guests”

If you finally decide on the four-team 12-group option, The number of parties will increase to more than 100. The number of host cities will double, as there will be 16 stadiums in 2026 compared to eight in the current version, and the economic and environmental puzzle that entails long-distance travel.

The other consequence of changing the format would be a increase FIFA revenue, Of which a large part of its benefits come from the organization of the World Cup. Al Methile just announced a record budget forecast of $11,000 million over the upcoming cycle 2023-2026, For 7,500 million in a World Cup with 32 teams.

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For their part, it remains to be seen if the break-up of the more modest nations will lower the playing field. Sunday Oliseh, a member of FIFA’s Technical Studies Group (TSG), does not think so, and for this he relies on the many surprises that occurred at the World Cup in Qatar: “I don’t think the quality (of the game) is going to suffer. On the contrary, we have seen Saudi Arabia is playing its first match (2-1 victory over Argentina) and it was great.”

Brazilian Ronaldo Nazario, twice world champion (1994 and 2002), was also “favorable” to the extension. “I think that this format, which gives the opportunity to other countries to participate in this great party, deserves,” said the former midfielder. “It will not lower the technical level of the upcoming releases, it will only increase the number of guests.”

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