Two official bids to host the event were submitted to FIFA: a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the United States, and a bid by Morocco. On 13 June 2018, the FIFA Congress will decide on whether to select one of those bids.
The tournament will be the first to feature 48 teams, after FIFA approved expansion from 32 teams.
Then-UEFA head Michel Platini had suggested in January 2015 an expansion of the tournament to 40 teams, an idea FIFA president Gianni Infantino also suggested in March 2016. A desire to increase the number of participants in the tournament from the previous 32 team format was announced on 4 October 2016. Four expansion options were considered:
The tournament will open with a group stage consisting of 16 groups of three teams, with the top two teams progressing from each group to a knockout tournament starting with a round of 32 teams. The number of games played overall will increase from 64 to 80, but the number of games played by finalists remains at seven, the same as with 32 teams, except that one group match will be replaced by a knockout match. The tournament will also be completed within 32 days, same as previous 32-team tournaments.
The European Clubs Association and its member clubs opposed the proposal for expansion, saying that the number of games was already at an "unacceptable" level and they urged the governing body to reconsider its idea of increasing the number of teams that qualify. They contended that it was a decision taken for political reasons, because Infantino would thus satisfy his electorate, rather than for sporting reasons. Liga de Fútbol Profesional president Javier Tebas agreed, affirming the unacceptability of the new method. He told Marca that the football industry is maintained thanks to clubs and leagues, not FIFA, and that Infantino did politics because to be elected he promised more countries in the World Cup; he wanted to keep the electoral promises. German national team coach Joachim Löw warned that expansion, as had occurred for Euro 2016, would dilute the value of the world tournament because players have already reached their physical and mental limit, Another criticism of the new format is that with 3-team groups, the risk of collusion between the two teams playing in the last round will increase compared with 4-team groups (where simultaneous kick-offs have been employed). One suggestion by President Infantino is that group matches that end in draws will be decided by penalty shootouts.
On 30 March 2017, the Bureau of the FIFA Council (composed of the FIFA President and the presidents of each of the six confederations) proposed a slot allocation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The recommendation was submitted for the ratification by the FIFA Council.
On 9 May 2017, two days before the 67th FIFA Congress, the FIFA Council approved the slot allocation in a meeting in Manama, Bahrain. It includes an intercontinental play-off tournament involving six teams to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths.
|Confederation||Total FIFA eligible members||Total places in finals
|Percentage of members with places in finals||Total places before 2026
(excluding host, including half-places)
|Total||211||48||23%||31 (+ host)|
For 2026, the slot of the host country will be taken from the quota of its confederation. In case of co-hosting, the number of automatically qualified host countries will be decided by the FIFA Council.
A play-off tournament involving six teams will be held to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths, consisting of one team per confederation (except for UEFA) and one additional team from the confederation of the host country.
Two of the teams will be seeded based on the FIFA World Rankings, and the seeded teams will play for a FIFA World Cup berth against the winners of the first two knockout games involving the four unseeded teams.
The tournament is to be played in the host country(ies) and to be used as a test event for the FIFA World Cup. The existing play-off window of November 2025 has been suggested as a tentative date for the 2026 edition.
The FIFA Council went back and forth between 2013 and 2017 on limitations within hosting rotation based on the continental confederations. Originally, it was set that bids to be host would not be allowed from countries belonging to confederations that hosted the two preceding tournaments. It was temporarily changed to only prohibit countries belonging to the confederation that hosted the previous World Cup from bidding to host the following tournament, before the rule was changed back to its prior state of two World Cups. However the FIFA Council did make an exception to potentially grant eligibility to member associations of the confederation of the second-to-last host of the FIFA World Cup in the event that none of the received bids fulfill the strict technical and financial requirements. In March 2017, FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed that "Europe (UEFA) and Asia (AFC) are excluded from the bidding following the selection of Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively." Therefore, the 2026 World Cup could be hosted by one of the remaining four confederations: CONCACAF (last hosted in 1994), CAF (last hosted in 2010), CONMEBOL (last hosted in 2014), or OFC (never hosted before), or potentially by UEFA in case no bid from those four met the requirements.
Co-hosting the FIFA World Cup — which had been banned by FIFA after the 2002 World Cup — was approved for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, though not limited to a specific number but instead evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Also by 2026, the FIFA general secretariat, after consultation with the Competitions Committee, will have the power to exclude bidders who do not meet the minimum technical requirements to host the competition.
The bidding process was due to start in 2015, with the appointment of hosts scheduled for the FIFA Congress on 10 May 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but was postponed due to the 2015 FIFA corruption case and the subsequent resignation of Sepp Blatter, and resumed following the FIFA Council meeting on 10 May 2016, amid corruption allegations around the previous tournaments, due to be held in 2018 (Russia), as well as in 2022 (Qatar).
The bidding process originally consisted of four phases:
The consultation phase focused on four areas:
On 7 November 2017, FIFA published a guide to bidding process. It outlines the key elements of the reformed bidding process, the assessment mechanisms in place, recommendations on the protection of the process’ integrity, the timeline for the selection of the host(s), the specific requirements for hosting, a detailed explanation of the government guarantees, as well as the principles of sustainable event management and human rights protection.
On 27 October 2017, the FIFA Council ratified the decision of the Bureau of the Council of 6 September 2017 to approve the enhanced Bidding Regulations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. It also appointed the members of the Bid Evaluation Task Force. According to the Bidding Regulations, the Task Force is expected to be composed by:
With no rival bid having emerged since April 2017 the CONCACAF member federations of Canada, Mexico and the United States sent a joint request to FIFA to hasten the bid process. Canada, Mexico and the United States wanted FIFA to award the bid outside the traditional bidding process at the June 2018 FIFA Congress in Moscow if the CONCACAF-bid meets FIFA requirements.
However the FIFA Council proposed on 8 May 2017 that FIFA shall establish a bidding procedure inviting initially only the member associations of CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and the OFC - continental confederations whose members have not hosted the two previous World Cups - as candidates to submit to FIFA bids to host the final competition of the 2026 FIFA World Cup by 11 August 2017. The 68th FIFA Congress will decide on the selection of the candidate host associations.
Endorsement of a set of principles submitted by the FIFA administration as part of the process to select the host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, including an overview of the content to be requested from bidding member associations and high-level hosting requirements. These include: stadium and infrastructure requirements; principles of sustainable event management, human rights and environmental protection; and details on aspects such as governmental support documents, the organisational model to be adopted and provisions for the establishment of a legacy fund. A complete version of the bid requirements will eventually be dispatched to member associations that register to take part in the process.
FIFA have established minimum requirements for stadiums capacities.
|Remaining group stage matches||40,000|
|Round of 32||40,000|
|Round of 16||40,000|
|Third place play-off||40,000|
FIFA established minimum requirements for team and referee facilities.
|Team base camp training Sites||48 (with 72 proposals)|
|Team base camp hotels||48 (with 72 proposals)|
|Venue-specific training sites||2–4 per stadium (with 4 proposals per stadium)|
|Venue-specific team hotels||2–4 per stadium (with 4 proposals per stadium)|
|Referee base camp training sites||1 (with 2 proposed)|
|Referee base camp hotels||1 (with 2 proposed)|
Under FIFA rules as of 2017, the 2026 Cup cannot be in either Europe (UEFA) or Asia (AFC), leaving an African (CAF) bid, a North American (CONCACAF) bid, a South American (CONMEBOL) bid, or an Oceania (OFC) bid as the only possible options. In March 2017, FIFA confirmed that "Europe (UEFA) and Asia (AFC) are excluded from the bidding following the selection of Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively."
Canada / Mexico / United States
FIFA's awarding of rights to Fox has been criticized for its lack of tender process, having been done in order to placate Fox regarding the move of the 2022 World Cup (which it has the rights to) from summer in the United States to late fall, during the first few weeks of the National Football League regular season. Due to the lack of a tender, FIFA lost revenue. According to the BBC's sports editor Dan Roan, "As ever, it seemed, FIFA was looking after itself."
It's an idea, just as the World Cup with 40 teams is already on the table with groups of four or five teams.