Don’t get too excited. This is far from likely just yet. But Thailand have recently joined a growing list of countries praising the decision of football’s international governing body, FIFA, to expand the 2026 World Cup to a total of 48 teams.
This far from guarantees a place at the 2026 World Cup for Thailand, but it seems that the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) believe that this will greatly increase the chances of us seeing the War Elephants at the World Cup. The president of FAT Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang hopes that Asia will benefit most from this recent decision.
This will increase the number of teams at the finals by 16, which is an increase of one third, from 32 to 48. Somyot was quick to point out that Thailand have already made it to the 12-team final Asian stage of the World Cup qualifiers for the tournament in 2018.
Currently, Asia is guaranteed just 4 spots at the finals, compared to 13 for countries from Europe. It appears FIFA have made the decision already and the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has commented on how the size and economic growth of Asia merits more than its current allocation of four teams at the finals.
Critics suggest that such an increase in teams will dilute the quality of football on offer at this global spectacle, however, the move has been supported by economic superpower China who want to get back in the action. Many other countries have also hailed the decision that will likely result in an estimated cash boost of around $640 million USD, when compared to projections for Russia 2018.
Can the War Elephants, currently ranked at 126 by FIFA, use this opportunity and make it to the big stage? We’ll find out in 2026.