Pinnick list gains of FIFA's 48-world cup slots

One looming problem with having the 16 groups of three teams is the increased chances for the result in final group matches to be contrived to send both participants through at the expense of the team who are not playing.

The decision is likely to mean Asia doubling their guaranteed World Cup finals allocation from four to eight countries, with the ninth-placed qualifier facing a playoff.

The FIFA Council confirmed on Tuesday that the expanded competition will take effect from 2026 onwards. "We are delighted with the 48-team format because it is positive for the game and gives nations more opportunities to participate in the World Cup but we need to make sure that all Federation Internationale de Football Association members benefit from an expanded tournament". Mexico has twice hosted memorable tournaments, first in 1970 when a magnificent Brazil side featuring Pele and the late Carlos Alberto waltzed to the title, and the 1986 World Cup won by Diego Maradona's Argentina.

The decision by the world football body to expand the World Cup slots to 48 teams from 2026 was greeted by mixed reactions on Tuesday, with some countries, especially those in Europe describing it as "bad" for football.

FIFA's six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will each get. "In some regions, not only does co-hosting make more sense, it's the only sense, because it's not just the 48 teams, it's the training facilities, it's all the other infrastructure that's required".

That was exclusively due to a biased qualification format where Asia was awarded either a half-place or just one of the 16 slots available over that duration.


The United States has been one of the rumored locations to host the 2026 tournament.

The FIFA Council unanimously supported the proposal and Infantino has said that FIFA will back any such bids put forward.

Africa and Asia could be the big winners in a larger format with a rise in their number of places, now at 5 and 4.5 respectively. "It's no point England campaigning for the World Cup, like they have in the past, when the European vote is split".

Instead, three-team groups will replace the usual groups of four to create simple progress to a knockout bracket. But the eventual winners will still play seven matches to claim the trophy, the same number as a 32-team World Cup.

FIFA's research has suggested that an expanded tournament would rake in an additional 632 million dollars profit on the current format, with the tournament revenue increasing to 6.42 billion dollars.

  • Rogelio Becker