FIFA Reveal Qualifying Criteria For 48-Team World Cup

The Bureau of the FIFA Council has recommended UEFA receive 16 slots in the new 48-team World Cup format, which starts from 2026, while proposing a six-team play-off to decide the final two places.

The Bureau, which comprises FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the presidents of the six confederations, met in Zurich and agreed on the slot allocation for the expanded event. The decision will now be submitted to the FIFA Council for ratification in May.

Six direct slots each will be awarded to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, eight to the AFC, nine to CAF and 16 to UEFA, while the OFC will receive one direct slot. The two remaining teams will be decided by a six nation play-off.


New UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has campaigned for 16 places at the game’s global showpiece, ideally with one team in each of the proposed 16 groups of three.

The proposed allocation includes automatic qualification for the host nation, with its slot taken from the quota of its confederation, while the play-off tournament for the two unallocated slots will feature one team per confederation – with the exception of UEFA.

One additional team from the confederation of the host country will qualify for the play-off, and of the six teams involved two will be seeded based on the FIFA World Ranking. The seeded teams will play the winners of knock-out matches between the four unseeded teams to determine who will reach the World Cup.

The play-off tournament will be held in the country hosting the main event with November 2025 suggested as the date for the first edition.

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