FIFA has voted to expand the football World Cup to 48 teams from its current 32, brushing aside concerns it would lower the overall standard of the tournament and make it too big.
The sports governing body said its decision‑making panel voted unanimously in favour of the change which will be introduced at the 2026 tournament.
The new format will include a first round of 16 groups of three teams with further details to be given later.
FIFA's 211 member associations each hold one vote in the presidential election and 135 of them have never played at a World Cup, so expansion of the tournament was always likely to appeal.
Those who have never qualified include 41 out of 54 of its African members and 10 out of 11 members in the Oceania region.