FIFA confirm the 2026 World Cup will include 48 teams

The announcement was made in Switzerland on Tuesday morning

FIFA confirm the 2026 World Cup will include 48 teams

Picture by Mike Egerton PA Wire/PA Images

FIFA have confirmed that the 2026 World Cup will be the first to contain 48 teams.

It will be the first tournament since France 98, to see an increase in participants. The World Cup in 1998, was the first to see 32 teams compete, and increase of eight from the 24 that took part at USA 94.

Since 1998, the 32-team structure has remained intact, with two teams advancing to the Round of 16, from eight four-team groups. The current format will remain intact for the World Cups in Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022).

Although not confirmed, it is expected that FIFA will vote for a format that will see 16 groups of three compete, before the top-two in each group advance to the Round of 32, with the tournament then becoming a single-elimination tournament.

The increase of 16 teams, means that more teams from each continent will qualify for the event. It is expected that UEFA's allocation will increase from 13 teams to 16. Africa and Asia will also be a big beneficiary with the two continents potentially receiving a combined nine extra spots.

The 2026 World Cup could see many debutants in the tournament due to the increase of places available. Euro 2016 was the first time the tournament increased from 16 to 24 teams.

As a result of an increased tournament, five teams including Northern Ireland made their debut in the tournament.