The three nations hosting the FIFA 2026 World Cup: Mexico, Canada, and the United States, will automatically qualify to play in the tournament, FIFA confirmed on Tuesday. Historically, this has been the case with the host nation, but there were some doubts in the case of 2026, which involves three host nations for the first time. FIFA, however, put all doubts to rest, by confirming all three CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football) teams would qualify without going through regular qualifiers.
Even with 3 host nations, it makes sense to have them all qualify automatically, as part of the excitement of hosting involves seeing your national team play. FIFA has previously granted automatic qualifying to more than one host nation, as in the case of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, where both South Korea and Japan qualified automatically, and it would have been hard-pressed to justify changing the rules to have all three go through regular qualifying, much less granting automatic qualification to just one or two of the host nations.
The slots corresponding to the three teams will be deducted from the overall allocation of six assigned to their federation, CONCACAF. That means only 3 other CONCACAF nations will qualify for the World Cup. But with 2026 being the first World Cup where the qualifying countries will expand from 32 to 48, that still leaves CONCACAF nations in a good place to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, especially since they will now not have to face the strongest teams in the federation as they compete for those three spots.
Both the U.S. and Mexico have previously hosted the World Cup on their own. This will be Canada’s first time hosting.