48 teams in 2026
The biggest expansion in the history of the World Cup is set to be implemented for the 2026 tournament after member states reached a verbal agreement for the increase in participating nations, report sources close to FIFA. The official announcement is expected to be made on Tuesday on the second day of the two day FIFA council meeting a day after the 2016 FIFA "The Best" gala which will be held in Zurich.
Qatar 2022 will be the last tournament with the current 32 team format and the structure of the new competition will be defined in the months ahead.
Brazilian journalist Jamil Chade, from Estado de São Paulo is in Switzerland and was present in one of the meetings where an 80 game schedule played over a thirty day period was discussed in depth.
Copa "do Mundo" de 2026 pode ser assim. 80 jogos em 32 dias. Renda de R$ 21 bilhões. pic.twitter.com/oJKq7sjB1A— Jamil Chade (@JamilChade) 8 de enero de 2017
From 13 to 48 in a century
The first World Cup competition was staged in Uruguay in 1930 with 13 participating nations. That increased to 16 four years later when France hosted the competition. The 16 team format remained through to 1978. Spain '82 saw the competition expand to 24 nations and France 1998 saw the expansion to the current format of 32 teams which will also be employed in the forthcoming competition in Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022.