UEFA qualifiers for international competitions organized after 2024, such as the 2026 World Cup and Euro 2028, will be reduced to groups made up of four or five national teams (compared to the current five or six).
According to the new format adopted by the Executive in Nyon, the preliminary tournaments that will give access to the main final stages will have fewer matches and a more legible layout, with the division of around 50 national teams into 12 groups of four or five teams.
UEFA explains that this reform will "relaunch the competition, making it less predictable and more dynamic", all "without increasing the total number of matches" over the entire season.
The winners of the 12 groups will qualify directly for the World Cup or European Championships, as will the best runners-up.
The other runners-up teams will play play-off matches against Nations League teams ahead of qualification for Euro 2028. As the World Cup expands to 48 teams in 2026, Europe will qualify 16 teams for Canada's final tournament , United States and Mexico, against the previous 13.
The number of teams qualified for Euro 2028 remains fixed at 24. As for the Nations League, the format is slightly modified to introduce the home and away quarter-finals in March, while retaining a 'Final four' (semi-finals and final) on dry match in June.
It will be necessary to see how these innovations will be articulated with the reforms announced in December by Fifa, which plans, from autumn 2025, to combine the international windows of September and October dedicated to selections, and to organize mini friendlies-tournaments in March, the 'Fifa World Series', which must bring together teams from different confederations.