FIFA Confirms Automatic Qualification of 3 Countries for 2026 World Cup

FIFA has announced a new detail for the 2026 World Cup. Due to winning the right to host the World Cup in a united North American bid, Canada, Mexico, and the United States will automatically qualify for the future World Cup.

According to a statement released by FIFA on Tuesday, “In addition, the FIFA Council confirmed that, in line with the long-standing tradition of having all hosts competing at the FIFA World Cup, as well as sporting and operational considerations, the hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2026, namely Canada, Mexico, and the USA, will qualify automatically for the final round of the competition, with their slots, therefore, being deducted from the overall allocation of six assigned to CONCACAF.”

While U.S. and Mexico qualifying for a World Cup is nothing new, it is excellent news for Canada. Before the FIFA announcement, Canada’s national team broke a 36-year drought between World Cup appearances when it qualified for Qatar in 2022.

Results of Automatic Qualifications

As a result of the three getting automatic qualifications, four teams will come out of the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football) qualifications for the expanded 48-team tournament.

Other than the allocation of four spots to CONCACAF, allocation through qualifying is now set as four spots to AFC (Asian Football Confederation), four to CAF (Confederation of African Football), six to COMENBOL (South American Football Confederation), one to OFC (Oceania Football Confederation), and 12 to UEFA (Union of European Football Associations).

The expanded tournament from the usual 32 games was a unanimous decision by the FIFA Council in 2017. The new tournament format will have 48 national teams split into 16 groups of three. The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage.

It will be the first edition expanded from the 32-team tournament that was introduced in 1998.

Further details will be announced at a later date about the qualifying competitions for all federations. 

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Other Announcements and Details

In addition to announcing the automatic qualifications, FIFA confirmed its timetable for bidding for the right to host the 2030 World Cup, saying it will make its decision next year.

There are three confirmed bids for 2030 hosting duties. These bids are a South American joint bid featuring Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile; a Spain-Portugal joint bid that added war-torn Ukraine last year; and Morocco.

Among the bidders, Morocco committed to joining the 2030 contest more than four years ago, immediately after losing the vote for the 2026 tournament to the North Americans.

In addition to the confirmed bids, there were speculations that Saudi Arabia would join a 2030 bid with Egypt in Africa and Greece in Europe due to its ambitions to host more soccer events.

The meeting for the 2030 World Cup will be separate from FIFA’s meeting to select a host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, which will be held first, earlier in 2024.

Aside from the future World Cup confirmations, it was announced that the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup would take place in Saudi Arabia from Dec. 12-22, 2023.

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