Next edition of the World Cup will be the first with 48 participating teams
Organisation of the tournament will be divided among three countries: USA, Canada and Mexico
Continental qualifiers to begin in the first half of 2023
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is approaching its decisive moments. Most of the teams that landed in the Middle East have already returned home, and there are only a few matches left before the Final on 18 December.
The good news for fans who are already starting to miss the routine of multiple soccer matches, sometimes four matches in one day, is that this time the wait for the most important tournament on the planet will be a little shorter.
Three and a half years from now, there will be a new World Cup, which will have an increase in the number of participants and promises to be the biggest edition in history. For those starting to think about 2026, FIFA+ has prepared a summary of what is already known about the next edition of the tournament.
Mark your calendar
The start and end dates of the 2026 World Cup have not yet been announced. What is already certain is that the next World Cup will return to being played in the traditional period, between the months of June and July. The expectation is that the tournament calendar will be extended to accommodate the new size of the competition.
For the first time in history, the organisation of the biggest football tournament on the planet will be divided among three countries. In total, 16 cities will host matches. Most of them (11) are located in the USA: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Boston and New York. The Mexican headquarters will be in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City. Finally, the Canadian venues are Vancouver and Toronto.
Also for the first time, the 2026 World Cup will see the participation of 48 teams, 16 more than the last seven editions of the tournament since 1998. The division of places by continental confederations has already been defined:
AFC (Asia): Eight direct spots + one for world play-off CAF (Africa): Nine direct spots + one for the world play-off Concacaf (North and Central America, plus the Caribbean): Six direct spots + 2 play-off tickets CONMEBOL (South America): Six direct spots + 1 world play-off OFC (Oceania): One direct spot + 1 world play-off UEFA (Europe): 16 direct spors
It has not yet been announced, but the trend is that the three host countries of the World Cup are automatically qualified (thus occupying three of the Concacaf slots).
According to Arsene Wenger, who heads FIFA’s Football Development Department, FIFA is working with three possibilities of competition format for the tournament, now with 48 teams. The decision on the model for the next World Cup will be made during 2023.
Each continental confederation has the autonomy to define the competition model and the period of their qualifying tournaments. Of the entities that have already announced the schedule for their qualifiers, CONMEBOL is the first to kick off its race for spots in the 2026 World Cup. The South American qualifiers are scheduled to begin in March 2023.
Logo, official poster and mascot
The visual identity of the 2026 World Cup, with the launch of the logo, poster, and mascot, has not yet happened. These disclosures should happen gradually over the next three and a half years.