48 countries World Cup 2026

48 countries will be active at the 2026 World Cup, instead of 32 countries. This means there are more matches and players in the tournament.

Former UEFA president Michel Platini proposed on 4 October 2016 to host the 2026 World Cup with 40 participating countries, instead of the current number of 32 countries. The new president Gianni Infantino even wanted to increase the number of participants for the World Cup to 48, including the host country. On January 10, 2017, FIFA decided that the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be held with 48 participants. [ref]

Due to the increase in the number of participating countries, the group round also changes. From the 2026 World Cup there will be 12 groups with 4 countries each. The numbers 1 and 2 of each group advance to the knockout rounds, as do the 8 best numbers 3, so that 32 countries reach the next round. Because more participants are admitted to the main tournament, each continent can also send more countries. This new set-up can also provide more exciting matches. Previously, the set-up consisted of 8 groups of 4 countries, with 16 countries moving on to the knockout phase.

Due to the increase in the number of participants, the number of matches increases from 64 to 104 and the number of football players from 736 to 1,104 (for selections of 23 players). To reach the final, a team must play a maximum of 7 matches (similar to the old situation).

General criticism of the increased number of matches was that it would require too much effort from the players. To meet this, FIFA has decided to finish the 2026 World Cup in 40 days (more than the old situation). This gives football players time to rest before and after the tournament.

FIFA hopes that the decision will improve the level of football worldwide. By admitting more participants to a World Cup football, more countries get the chance to prove themselves. Support for the global football tournament is therefore increasing and supporters from smaller football countries feel more involved in the World Cup.

Another advantage for FIFA is the higher income. More matches are being played by 48 countries, with which the World Football Association expects to receive a billion euros in extra income. The total expected revenue for the 2026 World Cup is € 6.2 billion.

UEFA will host 16 European countries at the 2026 World Cup

Europe will receive 16 tickets for the 2026 World Cup. FIFA has proposed that our continent may send 3 more countries to the tournament than before. The proposal will be considered in May this year in Bahrain by the executive committee of the World Football Association. With that, UEFA got its way.

There are more tickets to be distributed for the 2026 World Cup than was previously the case. As many as 48 countries can participate in the tournament. 32 countries are still active at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The continent of Africa receives 4 extra tickets, bringing the total to 9. Oceania will receive one direct qualifying place for the World Cup, where the best country previously had to play play-offs.

In 2026, 8 Asian countries will be allowed to participate in the football event, which is 4 or 5 more than now. North and Central America may send 6 countries to the tournament in the future, while there are now only 3 or 4.

South Africa is allocated the least number of additional qualifying places. According to FIFA's proposal, the continent may send 6 countries to the 2026 World Cup, while there are now 4 or 5.

Distribution tickets World Cup 2026

  • Europe: 16 tickets (previously 13)
  • Africa: 9 tickets (previously 5)
  • Asia: 8 tickets (previously 4 or 5)
  • South America: 6 tickets (previously 4 or 5)
  • North and Central America: 3 tickets + 3 host countries (previously 3 or 4)
  • Oceania: 1 (previously 0 or 1)
  • Mini tournament: 2

In addition, the host countries are automatically qualified for the World Championship, bringing the total number of qualified countries to 46.

Number of participants per World Cup football

The number of participants per World Cup football has increased considerably over the years. In 1930, only 13 teams participated in the World Cup, while in 2026 there will be no less than 48 participants.

  • 1930: 13 participants
  • 1934: 16 participants
  • 1938: 15 participants
  • 1950: 13 participants
  • 1954-1978: 16 participants
  • 1982-1994: 24 participants
  • 1998-2022: 32 participants
  • 2026: 48 participants


    Date published: 14-08-2017 | Date modified: 16-08-2023 | Author:


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    The 2026 World Cup has been expanded to 48 countries, bringing a total of 104 matches to the World Football Championship.

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