Qatar 2022 is getting closer to its end and the eyes of World Cup fans begin to turn to the west, more precisely to the core of Concacaf since the 2026 edition of the most important national team tournament in the world will take place there. United States, Canada and Mexico will be the organizers.

Until this last edition, 32 teams participated in the World Cup, divided into 8 groups of 4 teams each. The best two advance to the round of 16, and from there it is single elimination games until reaching the final. This format, of course, has not always been this way. Throughout history it has changed on more than one occasion.

The first World Cup had 13 teams, although later the number would rise to 16, then 24 until finally reaching the current 32. Uruguay 1930 had a group stage, but the next two World Cups were all by direct elimination, the group stage returned in Brazil 1950, and from there were several changes until reaching the current format, which will change in 2026 and here we will tell you how it will be.

Number of teams at the 2026 FIFA World Cup

One of the changes that FIFA will propose is the increase in the number of teams. The most significant of all history. The two biggest increases so far were from 16 to 24 teams and from 24 to 32. However, it is expected that there will now be 48 FIFA World Cup participants. In other words, there will be 16 more teams.

That, of course, will force to change the current format. The first option was to form 16 groups of three members. The first two would go to a round of 32, and there it would be direct elimination. This is still not convincing since it could lead to agreements between the teams that play the last Matchday to leave out the third team that would be free.

For this reason, a format much more similar to the current one was proposed: in this case there would be 12 groups of 4 members and the two best and the eight best third-placed would go to round 32. From there it would be direct elimination until reaching the final. This format has been more widely accepted, although the problem is that, to reach the final, 8 games would have to be played. But this is still under discussion.