Two football confederations, CONMEBOL and AFC appear to have made a quite similar preference on the current qualifiers format instead of making drastic changes.

South American governing body seem to have a more settled decision regarding the format of World Cup 2026 qualifiers. They want to keep the same format as the last one in 2022, despite their previous plan to reform for a fairer competition among their members, especially the underdogs such as Bolivia and Venezuela. Such is quite a surprising development as they were considering it last July. It was due to the fact that CONMEBOL are set to join UEFA Nations League 2024 plus the additional berths available. They will have extra two slots from 4.5 to 6.5, which deems more suitable for the new format.

However, after the CONMEBOL council meeting, which also included some debates, the South Americans officially prefer the qualifiers format to be the same as before. It means that instead of four, the top six teams in the final standings will qualify automatically, whereas the one sitting seventh will go to the international playoff path to fight for the last two tickets to final round against the teams from other continents, except Europe. Should the decision be approved by FIFA, their plan to be included in the 2024/25 UEFA Nations League could be in danger.


In the meantime, Asian football confederations have confirmed that their next world cup qualifiers will be more and less the same. The only slight change will merely be the number of groups and additional teams in the continental playoff round, instead of plotting a huge alteration.

AFC is set to have 8.5 berths for the 2026 edition or four more slots than the current one. The qualifying round will still be divided in three stages. They all remain the same as the last one. The initial stage is a knockout round for the 22 Asian nations ranked the lowest in FIFA rankings. The second stage is for 11 qualified teams from this round will be combined with 25 Asian teams ranked the highest in FIFA rankings to be seeded in nine groups consisting of four teams. They all will be playing in a round robin home-and-away format. The top two sides from each group will progress to the third stage. All 18 teams will be grouped in three. The group leaders and runners-up will seal the direct places, while the ones sitting third and fourth on the table (six teams altogether) will have to go through an additional round. They are bound to be put in two groups consisting three teams. Each group leader will secure the next two tickets whereas the runners-up from each group are set to face off one last game for one slot in the international playoff.

Unlike CONMEBOL, whose members mostly have played in world cup final round, except Venezuela, AFC are likely to have more teams to be at the global stage in 2026 apart from the regular ones such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran. The likes of UAE, China, Iraq, Uzbekistan or even Bahrain, Thailand and Vietnam could have a real shot to compete with Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the extra berths.