UEFA announces changes to qualification system for World Cups and European Cups
On Wednesday, the European Football Association (UEFA) announced amendments to the qualification system for major tournaments after 2024, similar to the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 European Cup.
Under the new system approved by the EU Executive Committee, the number of matches in the qualifiers for major tournaments will be reduced by dividing the 55 European teams into 12 groups of four or five teams each.
UEFA explained that the reform would “revive the competition by making it less predictable and more dynamic”, all “without increasing the overall number of matches” throughout the season.
The top-placed teams from the 12 groups will qualify directly for the World Cup or European Cup, as well as the top runners-up. As for the other runners-up, they will play play-off matches against teams from the European Nations League with the aim of qualifying for Euro 2028.
And with the increase in the number of teams participating in the 2026 World Cup to 48, up from 32 in the latest editions, 16 teams from Europe will qualify for the World Cup to be held in Canada, the US and Mexico, up from 13 previously. .
As for the number of teams that have qualified for the European Cup 2028, it will remain 24.
As for the European Nations League, a competition that was created in 2018 to replace friendly matches, the system was slightly modified to set a two-leg quarter-final round in March, while keeping the Golden Square (semi-finals and final) from one match in June. .
The winners and runners-up of each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, given that under the current system, only the winners of each of the four groups advance directly to the semi-finals.
Among other decisions taken on Wednesday, UEFA moved the 2023 European Super Cup from Russia’s Kazan to the Greek capital of Athens next August, while Russia remains suspended from all international competition due to the situation in Ukraine.