FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup trophy. Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP

48 teams in FIFA World Cup 2026, will South Africa qualify?

The number of teams that will compete in the FIFA World Cup 2026 in North America has been extended to 48 with a 104 games.

FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup trophy. Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP

The number of teams that will compete in the FIFA World Cup 2026 in North America has been extended to 48 with 104 games.

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Old format

For the last seven events, there have only been 32 teams competing in the World Cups. Five from Africa. Traditionally, the event was also hosted by a single host country each cycle.

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FIFA World Cup 2026

It will be a few years still until the qualifications for the FIFA World Cup 2026 are finalised but the regions have each been allotted their slots.

  • Asia will have eight direct spots and an inter-confederation play-off place
  • Africa will have nine direct spots and an inter-confederation play-off place
  • North and Central America and the Caribbean will have six direct spots (three of which will be taken by the host nations) and two inter-confederation play-off places
  • South America will have six direct spots and an inter-confederation play-off place
  • Oceania will have one of each spot
  • Europe will have 16 direct spots

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The qualifying teams will be split into 12 groups of four teams for the tournament. The top two teams per group will qualify for the knockout stage along with the eight best third-placed teams. Thus the tournament winners will have to play eight games instead of seven through to the final.

The FIFA World Cup 2026 will be hosted by all three countries in North America and 16 cities. 11 cities in the United States of America will host games. Three Mexican cities and two Canadian cities will round out the venues.

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