Africa gets 9 slots in expanded 2026 W/Cup

The expanded 48-team World Cup approved by world football governing body FIFA will see Africa now getting nine slots, four more than they currently enjoy.
An initial stage of 16 groups of three teams will precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32 when the change is made for the 2026 tournament.
The sport’s world governing body voted unanimously in favour of the change at a meeting in Zurich today.
In the expanded tournament, Europe will now have 16 teams, three more than what they have now, while South America will now get six automatic slots, upwards from the four automatic and one playoff places.
Asia has four extra spots with eight automatic and a playoff, while CONCACAF will get six automatic and a playoff slots.
Oceania and host country will have a slot each.
The decision has faced criticism from some of the sport’s most powerful voices, including warnings that it would dilute the quality of play and overburden already exhausted players.

But Infantino had in recent weeks voiced confidence that his flagship project would be approved.
The FIFA chief has noted that a bigger tournament would beef up FIFA’s coffers.

According to a confidential FIFA report, the 48-team tournament would bring a cash boost of $640 million (605 million euros) above projected revenues for next year’s finals in Russia.

But Infantino has also argued that more World Cup berths would help drive football’s global growth by boosting “inclusion” in the “biggest social and sporting event”.

Among those who seemed convinced by that argument was Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who on Monday said a 48-team format “will give more possibilities to countries that have never reached that level of competition”.
But the information remained unconfirmed and world football’s governing body was not expected to immediately announce its final decision on allotments.

The powerful council officially weighed five proposals during Tuesday’s meeting at FIFA’s snow-covered Zurich headquarters, including maintaining the status quo of 32-teams.

The landmark decision to expand the tournament is the latest overhaul of the World Cup, which has seen its global popularity and financial might surge since the inaugural edition in 1930.
That contest, won by Uruguay, had just 13 countries.

The World Cup expanded to 24 teams in 1982 in Spain before moving to its current 32-team version at France 1998.

THE BREAKDOWN
UEFA…16 (13 at present)
CAF…9 (5 )
ASIA…8.5 (4.5)
SOUTH AMERICA …6 (4.5)
CONCACAF…6.5 (3.5)
OCEANIA…1 (0.5)
HOST COUNTRY…1

 

 

 

Aisha JM