2026 World Cup

Euro 2024, World Cup 2026, etc.
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Diouf
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2026 World Cup

Post by Diouf »

The 2026 World Cup will take place in Mexico, the United States and Canada in 2026. The tournament will be the first with 48 teams.

The host cities were announced in late June 2026: Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Guadalajara, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Monterrey, Mexico City, Toronto, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Miami.


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Diouf
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Post by Diouf »

AFC has become the first confederation to announce its qualification format.

The format will help find the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup.

1. We start out in October 2023 with the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1. The 22 lowest ranked sides play home and away for 11 spots in the next round.
2. That is followed by the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2, where the top 25 sides join the 11 qualifiers. The 36 teams are divided into nine groups of four. Teams play each other home and away, and the top two sides in each group progress + secure qualification for the Asian Cup.
3. In the AFC Asian Qualifiers round, those 18 sides will be divided into three groups of six. They play each other home and away. The best two teams from each group qualify for the World Cup.
4. In the Asian Playoff round, the six sides who finished 3rd and 4th in the AFC Asian Qualifiers Round will be divided into two groups of three. The three sides face each other once. The group winners take the last two AFC World Cup spots. The second placed sides will face off in a playoff match to determine who gets the spot in the intercontinental playoff.

Those sides eliminated along the way continue a separate qualification for the remaining Asian Cup spots.
5. The ten lowest ranked sides among the eleven losers from the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 participate in a playoff home and away round, where the five winners progress.
6. In the AFC Asian Cup™ Qualifiers Final Round, those five teams join the highest ranked loser from Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 and the 18 teams which did not progress from Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2. Those 24 sides are divided into six groups of four with the group winners qualifying for the Asian Cup.

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Lorric
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Post by Lorric »

I predicted correctly that they'd run to three groups of six, but they've thrown in a curveball with the rest. I would not have expected Asia getting more places leading to Asia wielding the axe more in the preliminary round. By doing that they've cleared space for the matches they've set up with the 3rd and 4th teams. I would have expected top third to the World Cup and a playoff between the other two teams. What they've done instead will make some money and let more teams dream of qualifying for the World Cup and for longer.
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Firnen
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Post by Firnen »

Lorric wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:28 I predicted correctly that they'd run to three groups of six, but they've thrown in a curveball with the rest. I would not have expected Asia getting more places leading to Asia wielding the axe more in the preliminary round. By doing that they've cleared space for the matches they've set up with the 3rd and 4th teams. I would have expected top third to the World Cup and a playoff between the other two teams. What they've done instead will make some money and let more teams dream of qualifying for the World Cup and for longer.
I've read from some reliable British and Australian journalists who cover AFC football and backstage stuff that several AFC powerhouses (especially the West Asian ones) are the ones who keep the format that gets rid of the very weak teams early, because they consider it a waste of time to have to play them. This causes a domino where these very weak teams might play 2-4-6 official matches within 4 years, thus feeding the loop....

Having a final stage of 3 groups instead of 2 is another security layer for the big names, because there will be no group with more than 2 of Japan, Korea, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
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Post by Lorric »

Firnen wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:47
Lorric wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:28 I predicted correctly that they'd run to three groups of six, but they've thrown in a curveball with the rest. I would not have expected Asia getting more places leading to Asia wielding the axe more in the preliminary round. By doing that they've cleared space for the matches they've set up with the 3rd and 4th teams. I would have expected top third to the World Cup and a playoff between the other two teams. What they've done instead will make some money and let more teams dream of qualifying for the World Cup and for longer.
I've read from some reliable British and Australian journalists who cover AFC football and backstage stuff that several AFC powerhouses (especially the West Asian ones) are the ones who keep the format that gets rid of the very weak teams early, because they consider it a waste of time to have to play them. This causes a domino where these very weak teams might play 2-4-6 official matches within 4 years, thus feeding the loop....

Having a final stage of 3 groups instead of 2 is another security layer for the big names, because there will be no group with more than 2 of Japan, Korea, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Actually I'd say the more important thing to them is top 2 in the previous round. If they'd kept the previous system of 2 groups, the previous round would have been a far bigger threat where you can go out 2nd than a group where top 4 would qualify with 5th getting a playoff.
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Firnen
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Post by Firnen »

Lorric wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:53
Firnen wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:47
Lorric wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:28 I predicted correctly that they'd run to three groups of six, but they've thrown in a curveball with the rest. I would not have expected Asia getting more places leading to Asia wielding the axe more in the preliminary round. By doing that they've cleared space for the matches they've set up with the 3rd and 4th teams. I would have expected top third to the World Cup and a playoff between the other two teams. What they've done instead will make some money and let more teams dream of qualifying for the World Cup and for longer.
I've read from some reliable British and Australian journalists who cover AFC football and backstage stuff that several AFC powerhouses (especially the West Asian ones) are the ones who keep the format that gets rid of the very weak teams early, because they consider it a waste of time to have to play them. This causes a domino where these very weak teams might play 2-4-6 official matches within 4 years, thus feeding the loop....

Having a final stage of 3 groups instead of 2 is another security layer for the big names, because there will be no group with more than 2 of Japan, Korea, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Actually I'd say the more important thing to them is top 2 in the previous round. If they'd kept the previous system of 2 groups, the previous round would have been a far bigger threat where you can go out 2nd than a group where top 4 would qualify with 5th getting a playoff.
I meant the 3 Groups of 6. This guarantees that there will be no more than 2 of the "big 5" of Asia at any Group.
The previous round was always going to change because nobody liked the format with "best 2nd placed teams".
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Post by Lorric »

Firnen wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 22:30
Lorric wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:53
Firnen wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 21:47

I've read from some reliable British and Australian journalists who cover AFC football and backstage stuff that several AFC powerhouses (especially the West Asian ones) are the ones who keep the format that gets rid of the very weak teams early, because they consider it a waste of time to have to play them. This causes a domino where these very weak teams might play 2-4-6 official matches within 4 years, thus feeding the loop....

Having a final stage of 3 groups instead of 2 is another security layer for the big names, because there will be no group with more than 2 of Japan, Korea, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Actually I'd say the more important thing to them is top 2 in the previous round. If they'd kept the previous system of 2 groups, the previous round would have been a far bigger threat where you can go out 2nd than a group where top 4 would qualify with 5th getting a playoff.
I meant the 3 Groups of 6. This guarantees that there will be no more than 2 of the "big 5" of Asia at any Group.
The previous round was always going to change because nobody liked the format with "best 2nd placed teams".
Why would they care though? Whether they're in the same group or not they're not going to step on each other's toes.
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Post by JohnHarts »

What are we predicting as possible qualifying formats for the others?

CONMEBOL obviously keeping a single league.
UEFA looks obvious too. I'd expect 10 groups with winners qualifying and runners-up joined by 2 Nations League teams in a play-off for last 6 spots.
OFC a preliminary round leaving a final group of 4 teams with winners qualifying and runners-up in intercontinental play-offs.

CONCACAF? Assuming 3 hosts qualfy then 32 teams in 8 groups. Winners going through to an octagonal?

CAF? Depends how inclusive you want to be.
A preliminary round reducing the numbers to 48. Then
8 groups, winners qualify for WC. Runners-up to round 3.
Runners up play-off, 4 winners to round 4,
Single match group of 4 teams, winners qualify and runners up to intercontinental playoff.
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Post by amenina »

South American qualifying will start in March 2023, basically right after the 2022 World Cup.

https://bolavip.com/pe/seleccionperuana ... -0010.html

So it looks like there will be significant breaks in between to allow South American teams to play with European teams in the Nations League as rumoured.

In other news, Ecuador will start 2026 qualifying with a three point deduction due to the issues regarding Byron Castillo.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/ecuador-ecu ... atform=amp
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Post by Tazmania »

Across 2023, 20204 and 2025 there are 30 MDs if I'm not mistaken, yet there are only 18 competitive fixtures to fill them with for Conmebol teams. They play too many friendlies already.
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Post by Tazmania »

The article below is from L''Equipe last month.

The Nations League soon boosted by matches between the best selections

UEFA wants to have more posters to offer in the Nations League such as Spain-France, the last final of the competition in October 2021.

UEFA will introduce a new qualification system for Euros and World Cups with fewer matches to free up dates and fixtures between Europe's top nations in the Nations League.

UEFA finally maintained the formula of the Euro to 24 teams without giving in to the temptation to go to 32, as it had been thinking. Initially, she imagined that with more meetings the broadcasting rights would necessarily be upgraded.

But surveys of the TV market have shown that this is not the case, as broadcasters have no desire to add "wooden" matches to an already busy schedule. This wise decision to stay at 24 (almost half of UEFA's 55 member countries...) does not mean that nothing will change.

According to our information, the European body is preparing to lighten the qualifications for the World Cups (from the 2026 edition) and the Euros (2028). The desire is to reduce the groups currently composed of 5 or 6 teams, which will pass a priori to 4 or 5. This will free up two dates for the Nations League, on which UEFA will bet heavily in the future.

Limit unbalanced matches
In fact, the idea is to limit unbalanced matches between strong and weak nations, because they do not interest television, which achieve low audiences, or spectators, who are not motivated to move to stadiums. Instead, we would have two more matches per season between strong teams, in particular.

This will replace, for example, two oppositions between France and Azerbaijan against two more interesting and lucrative matches between the Blues and Germany. In detail, there could be 12 qualifying groups in the European zone against 10 today. And to further enhance the value of the Nations League, it could distribute more places for Euros and World Cups through play-offs pitting teams that have achieved results there.

Changes recorded and adopted on January 25
All these principles are recorded, but everything is not yet fully tied up concerning the final modalities of lightening the qualifications that will make more room for the League of Nations. UEFA's National Team Competitions Committee has yet to meet to make final arbitrations. Before an adoption of these new formats by the executive committee of the European body to be held on January 25 in Nyon, Switzerland.
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Post by amenina »

Tazmania wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 00:06 The article below is from L''Equipe last month.

The Nations League soon boosted by matches between the best selections

UEFA wants to have more posters to offer in the Nations League such as Spain-France, the last final of the competition in October 2021.

UEFA will introduce a new qualification system for Euros and World Cups with fewer matches to free up dates and fixtures between Europe's top nations in the Nations League.

UEFA finally maintained the formula of the Euro to 24 teams without giving in to the temptation to go to 32, as it had been thinking. Initially, she imagined that with more meetings the broadcasting rights would necessarily be upgraded.

But surveys of the TV market have shown that this is not the case, as broadcasters have no desire to add "wooden" matches to an already busy schedule. This wise decision to stay at 24 (almost half of UEFA's 55 member countries...) does not mean that nothing will change.

According to our information, the European body is preparing to lighten the qualifications for the World Cups (from the 2026 edition) and the Euros (2028). The desire is to reduce the groups currently composed of 5 or 6 teams, which will pass a priori to 4 or 5. This will free up two dates for the Nations League, on which UEFA will bet heavily in the future.

Limit unbalanced matches
In fact, the idea is to limit unbalanced matches between strong and weak nations, because they do not interest television, which achieve low audiences, or spectators, who are not motivated to move to stadiums. Instead, we would have two more matches per season between strong teams, in particular.

This will replace, for example, two oppositions between France and Azerbaijan against two more interesting and lucrative matches between the Blues and Germany. In detail, there could be 12 qualifying groups in the European zone against 10 today. And to further enhance the value of the Nations League, it could distribute more places for Euros and World Cups through play-offs pitting teams that have achieved results there.

Changes recorded and adopted on January 25
All these principles are recorded, but everything is not yet fully tied up concerning the final modalities of lightening the qualifications that will make more room for the League of Nations. UEFA's National Team Competitions Committee has yet to meet to make final arbitrations. Before an adoption of these new formats by the executive committee of the European body to be held on January 25 in Nyon, Switzerland.
We all know UEFA don't want any more England v San Marino matches. They want the qualifiers to be more competitive like the Nations League.

They already implemented the system for women's national team qualifiers. See topic here: viewtopic.php?t=5968 and article here: https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/news/02 ... competiti/

I expect that the men's national team qualifiers will be organized similarly starting from the 2026 WCQ. The teams will be divided into tiers, based on the results of the 2024/25 UEFA Nations. For 2026 WC, UEFA have 16 spots. The best eight teams of the top tier will qualify directly, and the other eight spots are decided by play-offs. Assuming there are two rounds, a maximum of 32 teams will compete in play-offs. Those teams will be the bottom teams of the first not which are not qualified for WC, and the top teams of the other tiers.

The question is how many tiers.
1. Four tiers, same as the current Nations League format: 16, 16, 16, 7
2. Three tiers, same as women's national team qualifying format: 16, 16, 23
3. Two tiers, so Leagues A&B in one tier, and Leagues C&D in one tier: 32, 23

I don't think UEFA will go with option 1. League D teams are simply not good enough to be playing in WC, it would be waste of time to have another tier for them.

Option 2 is better in terms of quality of matches. We will see higher quality matches in terms of competitiveness. But if a big team drops into League B, they will be in trouble in terms of qualifying, e.g., England were just relegated to League B.

Option 3 is better for inclusiveness. Mid-level teams also get a chance to play with the big teams to try to qualify, e.g., what we saw with iceland in 2018 WCQ.

So maybe we will see option 3, which is likely to be agreed by more national associations.

As for 2028 ECQ, the rumour is that it will be expanded to 32 teams. GB+Ireland are probably the favourites to host.

Since there are so many teams qualifying, the play-offs will be organized differently. There are three possibilities:
1. More teams qualify directly
2. Only one round of play-offs
3. Winners of the first round qualify, and the losers of the first round play the second round to qualify for the remaining spots.

For example, the best eight teams of the top tier will qualify directly, plus the best three host teams not qualified yet. So that's 11 spots, with 21 spots decided by play-offs. The first round will feature 28 teams, with the 14 winners qualifying. The second round will feature the 14 losers of the first round, with the 7 winners qualifying.
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Post by Tazmania »

Thanks for your thoughts.

UEFA decided to maintain a 24-team EC for 2024 and 2028 (it has alreasdy started the commercial sales for those competitions on that basis).
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Post by amenina »

Tazmania wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 08:45 Thanks for your thoughts.

UEFA decided to maintain a 24-team EC for 2024 and 2028 (it has alreasdy started the commercial sales for those competitions on that basis).
Thanks for the info.
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Post by Tazmania »

I predict UEFA will use this format for the 2026 WCQ:

7 groups x 5 teams
5 groups x 4 teams

All 12 group winners qualify.
All 12 group runners-up and the 4 highest ranked teams from the 2025 NL which do not finish in the top two positions of their WCQ groups will be drawn into four paths featuring single-leg semifinals and finals with the four final winners qualifying.
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