World Cup 2026 - 48 teams

massi83

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I for one think that since Asia has half of the world's population they should have 24/48 places
 

syrian_scholes

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As a Syrian I can only be happy about this, weird how much this forum loves gatekeeping football by calling countries who love football but can't afford to have the institutions to build great teams "non-footballing" countries.
 

MrMarcello

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There will be a lot of cannon fodder in group play expanding to 48. Has an official format been released?

Guessing something from the below options unless an additional knockout round before or right after group play:
8 groups of 6 - 5 matches, top 2 advance
12 groups of 4 - 3 matches, group winner plus next 4 best sides
16 groups of 3 - 2 matches, group winner advances
 

Bobski

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There a lot of really bad teams in this tournament, adding another 16 sides could be messy unless we have a huge improvement in standards. Too many old stars hanging on in this tournament.
 

FlawlessThaw

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There will be a lot of cannon fodder in group play expanding to 48. Has an official format been released?

Guessing something from the below options unless an additional knockout round before or right after group play:
8 groups of 6 - 5 matches, top 2 advance
12 groups of 4 - 3 matches, group winner plus next 4 best sides
16 groups of 3 - 2 matches, group winner advances
According to this, it's the top 2 that will qualify. So 32 teams out of 48 will qualify for the knockout stages.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jan/10/fifa-vote-expand-world-cup-48-teams-from-2026
 

CallyRed

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I read recently that FIFA still haven't confirmed that the group size will definitely be 3.
12 groups of 4 is still on the table.
 

KeanoMagicHat

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32 qualifying from 48 is a terrible, terrible format. 16 qualifying from 48 with 3 team groups isn’t ideal but could be quite interesting. A team like Germany have a bad day against Japan would be out.
 

Chief123

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They should follow a similar format to the cricket, have a preliminary knockout round for the teams who are ranked low, once they have filtered out you add in everyone else.
That’s pretty much what happens now. A qualification process.
 

Andycoleno9

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Highest level of sport (and world cup in football is high as it goes) should reward quality and results. Not be a charity.
4 years ago only one team from Asia/Africa got through group phases. And they now get extra 8 spots compared to Europe and South America who get 5 together. That is another laughable decision by FIFA
 
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Chief123

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Another 16 teams! Will they be cramming 5 games a day in, or just extending for a week?!

The "Positive" is that you have less chance of giants like Italy missing out and you have greater opportunity to play in what is the peak tournament of football.

But the obvious downside is you'll have loads of really weak teams getting in there, and the qualifying will be even more of a tedious procession for a lot of teams.
It will be the exact same number of games in the group stages as it’s 16 groups with 3 teams in each group meaning 3 matches per group. 48 games in total which is what we have right now with 8 groups having a total of 6 matches in each group.

The only difference will be there will be an extra round of games in the knockouts with the introduction of last 32 before the last 16.

Any team that wins it will still only play 7 games to win it like now.

What will most likely happen is seedings will mean all the really weak teams will go out in the group stage and the other 2 teams will go to the knockout stage. I’d imagine the majority of knockout teams will be the big nations which is what FIFA probably want.

I actually think it will result in a lot more bigger games against bigger nations especially from the knockout stages.
 

Kopral Jono

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I swear the expansion to the World Cup is just Fifa's ploy to get China, comfortably football's largest untapped market, to qualify for every tournament from 2026 onwards.
 

Josh 76

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It will be the exact same number of games in the group stages as it’s 16 groups with 3 teams in each group meaning 3 matches per group. 48 games in total which is what we have right now with 8 groups having a total of 6 matches in each group.

The only difference will be there will be an extra round of games in the knockouts with the introduction of last 32 before the last 16.

Any team that wins it will still only play 7 games to win it like now.

What will most likely happen is seedings will mean all the really weak teams will go out in the group stage and the other 2 teams will go to the knockout stage. I’d imagine the majority of knockout teams will be the big nations which is what FIFA probably want.

I actually think it will result in a lot more bigger games against bigger nations especially from the knockout stages.
One team will have more rest time than the other 2 in the groups games.

Example
England v Mexico
England v Iran
Mexico v Iran

Apart from that, the format sounds good.
 

Chief123

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One team will have more rest time than the other 2 in the groups games.

Example
England v Mexico
England v Iran
Mexico v Iran

Apart from that, the format sounds good.
It’ll even out because in that example England will have more rest before the knock out stage.
 

FootballHQ

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Highest level of sport (and world cup in football is high as it goes) should reward quality and results. Not be a charity.
4 years ago only one team from Asia/Africa got through group phases. And they now get extra 8 spots compared to Europe and South America who get 5 together. That is another laughable decision by FIFA
Had this debate before when Africa did badly at last world cup. Some interesting points because it's just 5 places their top teams can't get the consistancy of making World cups and so building as say Japan and South Korea have since they started making it regularly in the 90s. Both have now beaten Germany in consecutive World cups.

Depends on the talent cycle but likes of Ivory Coast and Algeria would be competitive in their groups as they've shown before so they'd be much more likely to be regular qualifiers.

Asia dosen't quite have that strength in depth.

Would on balance prefer to stay at 32 teams though. Worse idea is expanding the euros to 32 teams which will happen eventually given it's been mooted over last few months.
 

the_cliff

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Highest level of sport (and world cup in football is high as it goes) should reward quality and results. Not be a charity.
4 years ago only one team from Asia/Africa got through group phases. And they now get extra 8 spots compared to Europe and South America who get 5 together. That is another laughable decision by FIFA
It's not if you look at the strength of the teams that usually don't qualify. Africa regularly have teams that don't qualify that are at least as good as the teams that do qualify. Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast and Nigeria didn't qualify for this world cup and are all on the same level as the African countries that did qualify, Nigeria for example were a last minute goal from Rojo away from qualifying for the knockouts last world cup (In a group with Argentina and finalists Croatia) and yet didn't qualify for this one. In 2014 Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria in the round of 16, then went on to win the world cup and yet Algeria didn't qualify for this one. Last world cup Senegal were the first team to crash out in the group stages due to the fair play rule.

The problem with Africa is there are at least 8 teams that are on a similar level strength wise. Meanwhile with Europe there's usually a major gap in the level of the teams that do qualify and the ones that don't. A good example of this would be that in the last 2 AFCONs before the world cup 3 teams that were in the semi finals and one team in each final failed to qualify for the subsequent world cup. That would be unheard of for any other continent. (Italy is an exception to the rule).
 
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massi83

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It's not if you look at the strength of the teams that usually don't qualify. Africa regularly have teams that don't qualify that are at least as good as the teams that do qualify. Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast and Nigeria didn't qualify for this world cup and are all on the same level as the African countries that did qualify, Nigeria for example were a last minute goal from Rojo away from qualifying for the knockouts last world cup (In a group with Argentina and finalists Croatia) and yet didn't qualify for this one. In 2014 Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria in the round of 16, then went on to win the world cup and yet Algeria didn't qualify for this one. Last world cup Senegal were the first team to crash out in the group stages due to the fair play rule.

The problem with Africa is there are at least 8 teams that are on a similar level strength wise. Meanwhile with Europe there's usually a major gap in the level of the teams that do qualify and the ones that don't. A good example of this would be that in the last 2 AFCONs before the world cup 3 teams that were in the semi finals and one team in each final failed to qualify for the subsequent world cup. That would be unheard of for any other continent. (Italy is an exception to the rule).
From 2002-2018 when a small European country has been in the same group as African country the record is 13-8 in group standings in favour of small European countries (not Ita, Eng, Ned, Spa, Por, Ger, Bel, Fra). So there might be big difference in quality compared to big European countries but small European countries are still better than Afrian countries.
 

PSV

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It's not if you look at the strength of the teams that usually don't qualify. Africa regularly have teams that don't qualify that are at least as good as the teams that do qualify. Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast and Nigeria didn't qualify for this world cup and are all on the same level as the African countries that did qualify, Nigeria for example were a last minute goal from Rojo away from qualifying for the knockouts last world cup (In a group with Argentina and finalists Croatia) and yet didn't qualify for this one. In 2014 Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria in the round of 16, then went on to win the world cup and yet Algeria didn't qualify for this one. Last world cup Senegal were the first team to crash out in the group stages due to the fair play rule.

The problem with Africa is there are at least 8 teams that are on a similar level strength wise. Meanwhile with Europe there's usually a major gap in the level of the teams that do qualify and the ones that don't. A good example of this would be that in the last 2 AFCONs before the world cup 3 teams that were in the semi finals and one team in each final failed to qualify for the subsequent world cup. That would be unheard of for any other continent. (Italy is an exception to the rule).
One of the big problems with Africa is their qualifying format, they should have reorganized it a long time ago. Having a last stage playoff as the only qualifying method is nuts.

I would at least have organized it very differently. Interested to see if they remain insane and keep their final round playoff now they get more spots.
 

the_cliff

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From 2002-2018 when a small European country has been in the same group as African country the record is 13-8 in group standings in favour of small European countries (not Ita, Eng, Ned, Spa, Por, Ger, Bel, Fra). So there might be big difference in quality compared to big European countries but small European countries are still better than Afrian countries.
You're not understanding my point. My point is not in regards to the strength of Africa compared to European teams or South American teams, my point is the strength of African teams compared to other African teams, like I said there are around 10 teams in Africa that are of a similar level and it's very likely that in Africa the best teams don't end up qualifying because of the way qualifying is set up. A one off playoff game to determine which teams qualify is difficult as you know in a one off game anything can happen, especially when the teams competing are fairly similar in terms of strength and ability. This is a problem as African teams depend on the world cup a lot in terms of investment into football in the country and investment of the national teams. For playing in the world cup FIFA give the country's FA around 9 mill and it becomes more the further you reach in the competition, for European teams this figure may not be important in the grand scheme of things but for the majority of African countries it goes a long way to helping and investing in their national team. So it's hard for African teams to be consistent in the way Japan have (for example) when there's no consistent African teams qualifying for world cups.

If it was strictly about strength of teams as you mentioned then there's really no point of a world cup anyway, just get 16 of the best teams in Europe and South America and we'll be done with it.

One of the big problems with Africa is their qualifying format, they should have reorganized it a long time ago. Having a last stage playoff as the only qualifying method is nuts.

I would at least have organized it very differently. Interested to see if they remain insane and keep their final round playoff now they get more spots.
Yeah it's been a problem for a while but they're planning to change it for the next world cup, let's see what they come up with.
 

RoyH1

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USA is big enough to host that many nations so I am more bothered why they want to co-host with Mexico and Canada as hosting in multiple countries will be a nightmare logistic issue for travelling fans as we've seen in Euro 2020.

Obviously the expansion of 32 to 48 games in the next World Cup is a ploy to get China involved which means more money for FIFA, it would be hilarious if the most populated country in the world fail to make it even with this expansion.
To ensure they'd get the tournament. FIFA is about money yes, but also politics and optics. By inviting the Canadians and specially the Mexicans in they ensured winning the bid
 

NoPace

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Having waited my entire life for my country to make a World Cup (was 4 when Canada qualified it) and watching them outplay Belgium and lose, I have to say it was so nice to watch the game and think we had a real chance the entire time. Any other year if we'd snuck in, which we might have in a 48 team World Cup, I'd have been worried we were more likely to lose 7-0 than be in it properly.

Like the Chinese won't even enjoy it if their team isn't good enough to be the 6th best team in Asia. That's still 3 non-Korea/Japan side and you can't really expect more than 3 of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Qatar to be good in any given 2 year cycle (qualifying and WC). If you're not better than any of those sides the risk of just giving up 10-12 goals and only scoring 1 or going scoreless is genuinely high.

Europe 18.5 teams,
Africa 9.5
Asia 6.5
South America 7
Concacaf 4.5
Oceania 1
Host nation 1


is a way better mix.

Having more European team isn't really a problem for me, it's fun to watch teams from other parts of the world and cheer for them against European nations and this year would have added say North Macedonia, Sweden, Italy, Ukraine and Austria and the only one you'd turn your nose up at is North Macedonia, which makes them a likeable underdog in their first World Cup and therefore sort of fun to watch.

And obviously 2 of Peru, Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela can sort themselves out normally to be competitive.

Africa I think is the only nation at the right number, they have talent, population and infrastructure improvements and easier globalization tapping up of good young players on their side. And there are 3-4 decent African sides not here like Cote D'Ivoire, Egypt, Nigeria and at least this cycle, Burkina Faso (enough talent to field 7 or 8 guys in Ligue 1, Bundesliga or at decent clubs like Liege, Shaktar, Sherrif and PAOK. Even a couple fun transfer names to watch in Outtara, Tapsobah and Kabore and some recognizable names like Bertrand Traore. Perfectly cromulent squad playing the best football their nation has ever played.)

Until climate change really hits the fan, then we probably gotta go back to 32.
 
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11101

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As a Syrian I can only be happy about this, weird how much this forum loves gatekeeping football by calling countries who love football but can't afford to have the institutions to build great teams "non-footballing" countries.
It's not really about that but about the competition. There are a handful of decent teams in the AFC, CAF and CONCACAF. Nobody wants to watch cricket scores, on either side.

I don't mind expanding the competition but give it to the teams who can handle the competition. Africa could support more slots but probably not 9, Asia had it right with about 5, and North America has 3 competent teams. All have now got way more than they should have, yet South America only gets 6?
 

TheGame

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Interesting how the plan for groups of 3 would work.
I believe top 2 would go through to a 32 team knockout stage. Personally prefer groups of 4 as that makes it more interesting and actually have teams across the world playing each other.
 

the_cliff

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I believe top 2 would go through to a 32 team knockout stage. Personally prefer groups of 4 as that makes it more interesting and actually have teams across the world playing each other.
Agreed, I think groups of 4 and the 4 best 3rd place finishers would be best.
 

MrMarcello

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A three-team group seems problematic with sides not playing on a given day and the possibility the third matchday is literally meaningless if only one side advances to a knockout stage. I would recommend the top seeded nation not playing the first matchday. It opens the group with the two "lesser/ranked" sides meeting up, a win giving one side a huge momentum boost, and places added pressure on the higher seeded side to perform.

I still prefer four-team group format.

Any possibility of two group plays being introduced? 16 groups of 3 -> 2 sides advance to 8 groups of 4?
 

the_cliff

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A three-team group seems problematic with sides not playing on a given day and the possibility the third matchday is literally meaningless if only one side advances to a knockout stage. I would recommend the top seeded nation not playing the first matchday. It opens the group with the two "lesser/ranked" sides meeting up, a win giving one side a huge momentum boost, and places added pressure on the higher seeded side to perform.

I still prefer four-team group format.

Any possibility of two group plays being introduced? 16 groups of 3 -> 2 sides advance to 8 groups of 4?
That would be far too many games.
 
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