Sunday 22 April 2018

Ireland handed World Cup qualifying boost as Europe to get three extra places from 2026

16 November 2015; Jonathan Walters, Republic of Ireland, is congratulated by team-mates after scoring his side's second goal of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Play-off, 2nd Leg, Republic of Ireland v Bosnia and Herzegovina. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images)
16 November 2015; Jonathan Walters, Republic of Ireland, is congratulated by team-mates after scoring his side's second goal of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Play-off, 2nd Leg, Republic of Ireland v Bosnia and Herzegovina. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images)

John Brennan

It will be a little easier for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to qualify for the football World Cup from 2026 onwards following the news that Europe is to get three extra places at the summer celebration.

FIFA announced today that Europe’s finalists at the World Cup will rise to 16 teams from the current 13 for the 2026 tournament. That would allow UEFA to have eight groups with the top two teams qualifying each time.

An interesting proposal from the FIFA Executive for eight years’ time is that the last two places at the Finals would be won from a mini-tournament to be played in November at the end of worldwide qualifying.

However, Europe would only be in this tournament when a European nation is hosting the World Cup.

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