UEFA changed the format of the Qualifiers: how the qualification for the 2026 World Cup will be defined


File photo. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin speaks at a news conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman.

The playoffs of Europe heading to World Cup 2026 They will be different from how they were in recent years. Uefa finally confirmed the change that first increases the number of groups and reduces their members. Under the new format, qualifying tournaments will have fewer matches when the fifty European nations were divided into groups of four or five teams.

The objective of the reform, according to the organization of the Old Continent, is “to offer more attractive and exciting competitions within the existing dates, as well as to reinforce the resources of the national federations and guarantee a constant recovery from the impact of the pandemic.” To this end, “a more compact format of the European Qualifiers is adopted, resulting in a more attractive Playoffs without increasing the total number of games”.

The winners of the 12 groups will qualify directly for the 2026 World Cup and Euro 2028, as well as the best seconds. The rest of the seconds in each zone will play a playoff against teams classified through the League of Nations.

With the expansion of world to 48 teams in 2026, down from 32 so far, Europe will contribute 16 teams, three more than those who participated in Qatar 2022. While the number of teams participating in Euro 2028 remains at 24. Regarding the League of Nations, the competition created by UEFA in 2018, the format is modified to include some quarters from final to round trip, keeping the ‘Final 4′ (semifinals and final) to a single match in June.

Italy will seek to return to a World Cup with this format (Reuters)
Italy will seek to return to a World Cup with this format (Reuters)

These novelties must be adapted to the reforms announced in December by FIFA, which it foresees starting in autumn (northern 2025). merge the international windows of September and October and organize friendly tournaments in Marchthe FIFA World Serieswhich will bring together teams from different confederations.

The Uefa also decided this Wednesday that the next Super Cup will be held in Athens in August, removing the organization of this party from Kazan, the initially planned venue, due to the sanctions against Russia and Belarus for the invasion of Ukraine.

With information from AFP

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