48 countries will participate in the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America. This concerns the final round of the World Cup in the sixteen cities in the USA, Canada and Mexico. This is an expanded format, with the 48 teams contesting a total of 80 matches. At the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022 there were/are 32 teams competing with a total of 64 matches. For the 2026 World Cup, FIFA’s belief is: ‘bigger is better’, resulting in the mentioned 48 competitors. A first in history.
The uniqueness of having 48 participants in the final round poses greater challenges for the composition of the match schedule and, for example, the minimum rest days each country must have. One of the advantages of the new 48-team format, is that there will be more matches to watch (sixteen more than at a final tournament with 32 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar), as well as more players. Another advantage is the increased revenue from the 2026 World Cup TV and other broadcasting rights and, of course, the fact that the final tournament will be more exciting. It also means that millions of more fans can dream of ultimate World Cup success for twelve ‘extra’ countries, right up to the last few weeks and days.
Number of teams World Cup 2026 qualification
The battle to qualify will include 210 FIFA member countries. You can find more information elsewhere on this site regarding the format of the qualification for the 2026 World Cup and the distribution of the qualification groups across the six continental FIFA Zones.