new format and 9 places for Africa

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the 23e edition of the Men’s World Cup. The competition, like all its previous ones, is organized by FIFA and will bring together the best national teams. It will take place from June to July 2026 in the United States, Canada and Mexico and will be called ” United 2026 “. The North American trio had been designated to host the 2026 World Cup, with 134 votes against 65 for Morocco.

This 23e edition and this is a major novelty will be the first to bring together 48 teams in a World Cup final phase, instead of the 32 previously, as in this Qatar 2022 still in progress and which will probably be the last to be played with this number of participants. This new formula promoted by Gianni Infantino and adopted on January 10, 2017 will have the particularity of being played in the first round with 48 teams divided into 16 groups of three teams. The first two of each group qualifying for the 16th final stage from which all matches will be played in direct elimination.

The format, for the moment not definitively ratified (risks of arrangement between the teams in a pool), of the 16 groups of 3 teams could be abandoned in favor of the classic formula of pools of four teams (which would make 12 groups) , but in this case the question of how to qualify for the next round (number of qualified per group, etc.) remains open.

But before arriving at this at the level of all the continental confederations, the number of teams eligible for the World Cup will have to change. This is how the Asian Football Confederation known as AFC will double its teams and increase from 4 to 8 selections, the African Football Confederation will increase from five to nine teams, the North American Football Confederation, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) will have six teams instead of the current three, South American Football Confederation (CSF) goes from 4 to 6 selections, the Oceania Football Confederation will have a representative in the final phase and the UEFA from 13 to 16 teams. Two dams will take place as well as the organizing countries.

That said, no confederation has yet defined the form of the playoffs to do this. For us Africans, it would seem that the formula of nine groups of five (still under discussion) with the first of each qualified group should be retained. But CAF should proceed with a preliminary round (knockout with back and forth matches) involving for the 18 lowest ranked FIFA selections. The 9 qualified selections will participate in the group stage. FIFA has left a qualifying place for play-offs and for our continent it will be the best second of the group stage which will be measured against the representatives of the other continents. per confederation with the exception of UEFA, as well as an additional team from the confederation of the host country.

Of the 22 cities in the United States, Mexico and Canada scheduled to host the 2026 North American World Cup, only 16 remain. On June 17, FIFA announced them as follows, (2 in Canada, 11 in the United States and 3 in Mexico), after the withdrawal of Montreal in July 2021, lack of funding after the Quebec government withdrew its support.

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