FIFA president Gianni Infantino. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI
Play-Off To Decide Two Slots
If a recommendation by the Bureau of the FIFA Council is approved by the world football governing body, Africa will from the 2026 edition of the World Cup present nine teams at the global fiesta.
According to a document made available to The Guardian by FIFA yesterday, the council, comprising the world governing body’s President, Gianni Infantino and the presidents of each of the six confederations, met on Thursday in Zurich and agreed to deliberate on slot allocation for the competition beginning with the 2026 edition.
“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 67th FIFA Congress.
It explained that when the FIFA Council on January 10 unanimously agreed to expand the FIFA World Cup to a 48-team competition, “FIFA, the confederations and the member associations engaged in a consultation process, which resulted in the proposal recommended by the Bureau of the Council. According to this proposal, the split of direct berths.”
When the proposal is approved Asia will be allocated eight direct slots, Africa nine, CONCACAF (NORTH America) six, Oceania one and Europe 16.
“The host country would also automatically qualify for the FIFA 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,” it said.
After the allocations to the continents, the two remaining slots would be decided through a play-off involving six teams.
The play off will involve “one team per confederation with the exception of UEFA and one additional team from the confederation of the host country.”
It revealed that two of the teams to be seeded based on the “FIFA/Coca-Cola ranking will play for a World Cup berth against the winners of the first two knockout games involving the four unseeded teams” adding that the tournament would be played in the host country (ies) and would be used as a test event for the FIFA World Cup.
The games will be played during the existing play-off window of November 2025 suggested as tentative date for the 2026 edition.