Sports / Updates
Friday, 31 Mar 2017 18:15 EAT
FIFA has outlined plans for a new six-team playoff tournament to be held as a qualification event ahead of the 2026 World Cup. The world football governing body, its plans as football’s global governing body detailed the proposed slot allocation for the expanded version of its showcase national team competition.
FIFA says the proposal reviewed by the Bureau of the Fifa Council includes a play-off tournament involving six teams to decide the last two 2026 World Cup berths. It will include one team per confederation with the exception of Europe’s Uefa, and one additional team from the confederation of the host country. Two teams will be seeded based on the Fifa World Ranking.
The seeded teams will play for a World Cup berth against the winners of the first two knockout games involving the four unseeded teams. Significantly, Fifa has said the tournament will be played in the host country or countries and is to be used as a test event for the World Cup.
The Confederations Cup has long served in this capacity, but there has been mounting speculation surrounding its long-term future. The existing play-off window of November 2025 has been suggested as a tentative date for the 2026 edition.
In January the Fifa Council unanimously decided in favour of expanding the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams as of the 2026 edition. World football’s supervisory and strategic body decided on a new tournament format with the 48 teams split into 16 groups of three. The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage.
Under the slot proposal made by the Fifa Bureau, Europe would gain 16 direct places at the 2026 World Cup, Africa nine, Asia eight and South America six, The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) region six and Oceania one, totalling 46 teams.
The current allocation is 13 places to Europe, five to Africa, four to Asia and South America and three to Concacaf. Fifa said the host country would also automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup, and its slot would be taken from the quota of its confederation. In the event of co-hosting, the number of host countries to qualify automatically would be decided by the Fifa Council.
The recommendation will now be submitted for the ratification of the Fifa Council, whose next meeting is scheduled for May 9 in Manama, Bahrain, two days prior to the Fifa Congress.