The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament to feature an expanded 48 team field, and now FIFA has revealed how many slots each confederation will receive under the new format.
The Bureau of the Council proposed a new slot allocation for the World Cup for 48 teams, beginning with the 2026 edition, as well as a revamped playoff system for the final two open slots. The new allocation sees partial slots done away with and sees each confederation increase their total presence, though some more than others.
UEFA sees the smallest change, moving from 13 slots to 16. CONCACAF AND CONMEBOL both jump to six total slots, up from 3.5 and 4.5 respectively. Oceania finally gains an automatic presence, moving from 0.5 slots to 1 full slot, while the Confederation of African Football’s allocation rises from 5 to 9. The biggest jump comes from the Asian Football Confederation, however, which nearly doubles their allotted spots from 4.5 to 8.
The automatic bids account for 46 of the 48 overall teams. The final two teams will be determined by a six-team playoff, with the teams coming from each confederation except UEFA, plus one additional team from the host country’s confederation. The two highest teams in the FIFA World Rankings will automatically be placed into the semifinals, while the remaining four teams play a knockout round to determine their opponents. The playoff tournament will be held in the host country as a test event for the upcoming World Cup, and a tentative date of November 2025 has been set for the 2026 edition of the tournament.
The news is extremely positive for smaller federations, in particular those just outside of qualification spots in their federations. New Zealand will benefit greatly as the biggest nation of Oceania, while CONCACAF qualification is now more open to sides outside of the traditional top three of the U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica.