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FIFA expands World Cup to 48 teams

There will be 48 teams in the World Cup starting with the 2026 edition.

The Best FIFA Football Awards Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

FIFA's officials have voted to expand the World Cup to 48 teams starting with the 2026 World Cup. The news means that the World Cup will increase it's participation to 48 teams. The format will also change with the first round consisting of 16 groups of three. After that, there will be an extra round of elimination games of 32 teams before going into the current knockout stage format.

While the format and the numbers of teams have changed, the team allocations to each confederation have still not been determined. There are speculations that there might be a merging of CONCACAF/CONMEBOL for World Cup qualifying, with 13 spots going to the Americas. The other strong rumor is that CONCACAF will get 6 or 6 1/2 spots for the new 48 team World cup. A six spot World cup will mean the end of the Hex, and might have CONCACAF World Cup qualifying be divided into two groups, which might mean no US/Mexico or Mexico/Costa Rica finals.

Yet for a Mexico team that has struggled to qualify to every World Cup since 1998, it might lead to an end to the stress that has become a constant. On the other hand, a CONCACAF/CONMEBOL merger might make things more difficult for CONCACAF teams, including Mexico.

Gianni Infantino's changes will help a lot of teams, and while it might make it easier for Mexico, the fact of the matter is that it will not be among the most benefited teams with the new changes. Teams like Panama, Jamaica, Peru and Paraguay are set to benefit a lot more.