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World Cup: USA, Canada & Mexico will auto-qualify for 2026

What was long suspected got confirmed by FIFA on Tuesday: the United States, Canada and Mexico will auto-qualify as co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup.

The decision leaves Concacaf with three remaining qualification spots, leading to six regional representatives in the expanded 48-team field for the North American tournament. Historically, the men's World Cup contains 32 nations.

The US, Canada and Mexico all competed at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after qualifying via Concacaf’s Octagonal process. Now, those high-pressure games won’t be required for the USMNT, CanMNT and El Tri. Concacaf is yet to confirm how countries like Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and more would seek to qualify.

The exact format of the 2026 World Cup remains unknown. It was believed teams would compete in 16 groups of three countries each, but FIFA president Gianni Infantino said last December they're revisiting options. Twelve groups of four countries each may be the outcome, following the structure that normally exists at a World Cup.

The 16 host locations involve 11 US cities where 60 games will be played, while Canada has two and Mexico has three (10 games apiece). The 16 host cities are separated into three regions – Eastern, Central and Western – to reduce travel.


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