Fifa World Cup expansion to 48 teams: A closer look at the evolution of the tournament

Following Fifa's ruling council's unanimous approval Tuesday of an expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams in 2026, here is a look at the evolution of the tournament since the inaugural edition in 1930.

- 1930: The first World Cup final kicked off with 13 teams in Uruguay, including four European nations - Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia.

- 1934: Expanded to 16 teams for the tournament in Italy, after a qualifying stage for the first time.

- 1938: Only 15 teams take part in France after Austria, which had just been annexed by Nazi Germany, withdraw.

 Fifa World Cup expansion to 48 teams: A closer look at the evolution of the tournament

Fifa president Gianni Infantino. Reuters file image

- 1950: The World Cup returns after World War II – the previous two editions having being cancelled – with 13 teams competing in Brazil.

- 1954: Hosted by Switzerland the tournament returns to the 16-team format.

- 1958: In Sweden, format unchanged in a tournament in which Brazilian star Pele wins the first of his three World Cups and France striker Just Fontaine is the top scorer with 13 goals, a record which still stands.

- 1970: The World Cup in Mexico is one of firsts - introduction of substitutes (two) during a match; red and yellow cards and tournament televised in colour. Format unchanged.

- 1982: As FIFA looks for new revenues the World Cup in Spain witnessed a small revolution with the passage from 16 to 24 teams and 52 matches played.

- 1986: This edition in Mexico won by Diego Maradona's Argentina introduces a knockout round of last 16 and quarter-finals.

- 1994: Football continues to modernise with 147 participating in qualifiers and Africa gaining a third team in the final in the United States.

- 1998: The tournament organised in France moves to 32 teams. 174 teams participated in qualifiers.

- 2002: For the first time the World Cup is jointly hosted by two countries – Japan and South Korea. Brazil win for a fifth time.

- 2010: The first World Cup hosted on the African continent. Format unchanged.

- 2022: To avoid the searing summer heat, the World Cup in Qatar will take place for the first time in winter, from November 21 to December 18 in the Gulf state.

- 2026: FIFA approved an expansion to 48 teams in the 2026 World Cup, with a format of 16 groups of three nations.

Updated Date: Jan 10, 2017 16:59:22 IST