FIFA proposes new 6-team playoff ahead of 2026 World Cup

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ZURICH (AP) - FIFA wants to stage a new six-team playoff round in the World Cup host country for two places ahead of a 48-team tournament.

The final slots would be decided in a mini-tournament staged as a test event in the November before the World Cup.

The idea comes as part of FIFA's proposal to award each continent extra places for an expanded World Cup, starting in 2026. FIFA says its bureau recommends giving UEFA three extra guaranteed slots, bringing its total to 16. It also increases Africa to nine, Asia to eight, South America to six, North America to six and Oceania to one.

Excluding Europe, the other five confederations would send one team for the playoffs. The World Cup host continent would provide the sixth.

FIFA also says automatic entry for host nations should come from a confederation's quota.

Before coming into effect, the FIFA Council must approve the proposal on May 9 in Bahrain.