World Cup 2026 Free Bets & Offers

world cupWhen it comes to international football, the World Cup is the absolute pinnacle. It is football’s equivalent of the Olympics, seeing teams representing countries from all around the world go head-to-head in order to be crowned the world champions. The European Championship is the equivalent event that is limited to teams under the auspices of UEFA, just as the Africa Cup Of Nations is for Africa and the Copa América is for South America, but the World Cup is the daddy of them all.

It offers drama and excitement like no other competition, if for no other reason that the entire world is gripped on what’s happening wherever the tournament is being played. It has enjoyed moments of controversy, such as when Diego Maradona used the ‘Hand of God’ to score past England’s Peter Shilton, as well as moments that brought tears to the eye. The World Cup engrosses nations, communities and viewers from every corner of the planet, such is the overwhelming nature of football’s global appeal.

Betfred Multiple Extra Value WC Offers

betfred double delight hattrick heaven

Betfred also have a host of promotions available to all customers that can add potential value to World Cup bets.  Given Betfred have been around since the late 1960's and this is their 14th World Cup as you might expect they have a good handle on what punters want.

To start with your anytime goalscorer bets will also include extra time, which will include all the knockout games from the last 16 onwards where extra time is possible.  It is applicable for all anytime goalscorer bets on any WC game, not just the first bet placed.

If you place accas you can get acca insurance with Betfred but for the WC they are giving cash refunds on 5+ selection bets where one selection fails to win.  This covers bets placed up to £10 with minimum offs of 1/2+ each leg and includes Match Result, Both Teams to Score, Match Result & Both Teams to Score, Half-Time/Full-Time, Total Goals Over/Under, Match Result and Total Goals Over/Under and Correct Score markets.  You can claim this up to once each day.

Finally the double delight and hat-trick heaven goalscorer offer from Betfred is one of the longest running online sports promotions there is.  Just because it has been around a long time doesn't make it any less interesting, though, and the fact it has stood the test of time is testament to how many customers utilise the offer consistently.

The idea is if you back a first goalscorer in any of their selected matches and if the player scores first you get paid out at the normal odds.  If, however, the player then scores again you will get paid out at double those odds.  If the player should go on to score a hat-trick, three goals, in the game then you will get treble the odds with all winnings in cash.  The offer is available for both pre-match first goalscorer bets and next goalscorer markets in-play.

Given the leading players at the World Cup are very capable of scoring multiple times in a game this offer can be highly valuable throughout the tournament.  It applies to 90 minutes only, however, so any goals in extra time in the knockout stages will not qualify.

Offer Terms: DD/HH: Only pre-match single bets placed on the specified DDHH first goal scorer market in selected games. Fulfilled in real cash and credited with settlement of the first goalscorer market. 90 mins only. Full T&Cs Apply.
Anytime Goalscorer Extra Time Included: Available on the Anytime Goalscorer market on any 2022 World Cup Knockout match. Applies to singles & multiples. Pre-match bets only. Real cash credited with settlement of the Anytime Goalscorer market. Full T&Cs Apply.
Acca Insurance Cash Refunds: Applies to pre-match 5-fold+ Football accumulators placed on selected markets in selected leagues. Applies to selected matches. Min odds per leg of 1/2. Cash refund paid within 24 hours, max £10. Does not apply to Cashed Out or in-play bets. Full T&Cs Apply. begambleaware.org #ad

Unibet Football Welcome Offer: Bet £10 Get £30 + £10

unibet football welcome offer

When it comes to the World Cup the bookies push the boat out with welcome offers, as is evident here with Unibet's football special, which is much better than their standard offer.  If you are looking to place a few bets on this years tournament, perhaps an outright winner, golden boot winner and some match bets then by depositing and betting £10 on football (Evens+ odds) with Unibet you can claim a further £30 in free bets for football (use at Evens+).

The free bets are valid for one week from issue and can be split up as you wish, if you win with the free bet you get the winnings in cash but the stake itself is not returned.

On top of this Unibet are also giving a £10 bonus for the casino, which you can use if you like gaming or just ignore if you don't.  The bonus needs to be wagered fifty times over to convert to cash, also within 7 days.

Offer Terms: 18+ begambleaware.org. New customers only. Minimum deposit £10. Place a £10+ bet on football of odds 1/1 (2.00) or greater to receive your £30 in football free bets once qualifying bet is settled. Free bets valid for 7 days. £10 Casino bonus will be credited the day after you have deposited. Casino bonus must be wagered at least 50x before any withdrawals can take place. Full T&Cs apply. begambleaware.org #ad

888 New Customer Bet Builder Offer: Bet £10 Get £40

888 bet builder

Bet Builders were unheard of at the 2014 World Cup and were only just coming into fashion when the last edition rolled around in 2018.  In fact, it was the performance of bet builders at the last tournament that led to bookies really getting behind them and rolling them out across their football products.  In the last 4 years they have risen in popularity and now compete with the traditional acca in terms of how many people place bets this way.

If you are not familiar with what a Bet Builder is it is a way of placing a multiple bet within a single match.  It allows you to combine related markets together such as goalscorer, correct score, btts, bookings, corners, goals, shots, handicaps, and tons of other markets within a game into one bet.  Effectively the more detailed your prediction is the higher the odds offered.

If you, therefore, plan to place Bet Builders on the 2022 World Cup then this offer from 888 is a good option.  If you place a £10+ bet builder with odds of 2/1+ you will be awarded with four £10 free bets to use on bet builders or other football markets, valid 3 days.

Offer Terms: Min deposit £10 with promo code: GET40 • A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 using Bet Builder • Min odds 2/1 (3.0) • Free Bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement, expire after 3 days and valid for football markets only • Free Bet stakes not included in returns • Withdrawal restrictions, payment methods, country & full T&C’s apply. begambleaware.org #ad

bet365 Two Goals Ahead Early Payout

two goals ahead early payout

With bet365 if you bet on any full time result (in 90 minutes, not including enhanced prices) at this years World Cup and one team goes two or more goals ahead then you can get an early payout, even if the team that goes two goals ahead doesn't end up winning at full time.  This applies to single bets on the result and match result bets in accumulators.

With an overall World Cup average of 3 goals per game and 2.6 goals per game at the last tournament it means in over half of matches there are likely to be two goals.

Roughly, in around 9/10 games a team that goes two goals ahead wins but that of course means in up to 10% of games they don't.  If one team dominates and gets two or more of those goals before the opposition scores then with 365 the bet is paid out irrespective of the final result in 90 minutes.

Offer Terms: Get your single bets paid out if the team you back goes 2 goals ahead - for multiple bets the selection will be marked as a winner with bet365. Applies to pre-match single and multiple bets on the standard Full Time Result market for applicable competitions. Only available to new and eligible customers. Bet restrictions and T&Cs apply. begambleaware.org #ad

bet365 Bore Draw Money Back +

bet365 bore draw

Naturally we know that sometimes international games can end up being drab affairs, even at the World Cup it is not uncommon to see 0-0 draws.  Indeed the average number of 0-0 draws at the World Cup from 1998 to 2018 is 9.6% of games, although it does vary a lot.  In Brazil in 2014 we saw eleven 0-0 (17.2%) draws while in Russia in 2018 there was just the one (1.6%).

We don't know whether Qatar will be more like Russia or Brazil but to cover yourself if you place your correct score, HT/FT and scorecast bets with bet365 and the game ends 0-0 you will get your stake refunded as cash automatically.

The offer is called 'plus' as for this years tournament the offer has been extended to include the following markets:

• First Goalscorer
• Last Goalscorer
• Anytime Goalscorer
• To Score with a Header
• To Score from Outside the Box

Offer Terms: Get your stake refunded on any World Cup match that finishes 0-0. Here at bet365, Bore Draw is now available throughout the World Cup, place a pre-match bet on any of the markets listed; Half Time/Full Time, All Correct Score markets, All Scorecast markets, First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, Anytime Goalscorer, To Score with a Header, To Score from Outside the Box, on ANY Soccer match from the World Cup, up to and including Sunday 18th December 2022 and we will refund your stake if the game ends 0-0. Only available to new and eligible customers. Bet restrictions and T&Cs apply. begambleaware.org #ad

World Cup News, Stats & Insights

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World Cup New Customer Free Bets

world cup trophy and ballWhen the World Cup rolls around, bookmakers are all too aware of the fact that punters want to have a bet or two on the outcome of the various matches. Indeed, plenty of people who don’t normally tend to place wagers on football are tempted to do so when it’s the World Cup, so bookies look for ways to tempt people to place their bets with them.

It isn’t an entirely generous enterprise, of course. The bookmakers are hopping that you lose your bets in the long term so that they make money from you, meaning that a free bet or two isn’t exactly a hardship for them. They’ll make a cut whatever happens, but they bank on the fact that more people will lose their bets than will win them, meaning that they’re always in the black.

What brands aim to do is give you something for free, they actually want you to win with your first bet and promotional money in the hope you will continue betting with them.  By using welcome offers wisely punters can add a lot of value to bets.

Are They Free Bets or Bonuses?

freeThe first thing you’ll want to do is the ensure that you’ve clarified whether you’re being given a free bet or some bonus money. The difference being that free bets can be played as their own thing, as long as you meet certain bet criteria laid out by your bookmaker of choice, whereas bonuses tend to need to be rolled over a certain number of times before you’ll be able to withdraw any winnings.

The wording used by your favour bookie will give you a clear idea of what type of reward you’re being given. If it says, for example, ‘Bet £10 On The World Cup & You’ll Get A £10 Free Bet’ then you’ll be given a free bet token in exchange for placing a £10 Bet on a World Cup match. Usually you’ll need to ensure that the bet that you place both with your £10 free bet and your qualifying bet meets set criteria, such as needing to be on bets with odds of 1/2 or higher.

If the promise is that you’ll get a ‘£10 Bonus For Betting £10 On The World Cup’ then things will work slightly differently. Whereas with the free bet you’ll be able to draw any winnings, minus the free stake, straight away, bonus money will often have small print that says that you need to ‘roll over your winnings’ a given number of times before anything will be withdrawable.

In terms of the best offers that come around during major events such as the World Cup, cash back are the pinnacle. You usually simply need to deposit money into your account and then you’ll be able to place a bet of up to, say, £10, knowing that if it’s a losing bet then you’ll get a cash refund.  These are rare but crop up for the bigger events, and you don’t get bigger than the WC.

Note, however, some ‘if you lose’ offers are not the same as cash back and will often give a refund as free bet token, giving you another bite of the cherry but you can’t withdraw it as cash. It’s not as good as a cash back, obviously, but still a good option.

Consider The Offer Terms

terms and conditions
There are, of course, certain things to look out for when the World Cup comes around and it feels as though bookmakers are throwing offers at you to win your business. The most obvious one is whether it is indeed limited to new customers or is available to people who have been with the bookie for a long time. If you’re a relative newcomer to betting in general then this is unlikely to have any effect on you, but if you’ve been betting for years then it will be an important distinction.

The minimum bet requirements are also key. The reason for this is that bookmakers don’t want to be giving away money willy-nilly, so they are unlikely to offer you the chance to win by betting on a dead cert. Instead your bets will almost certainly have to have minimum odds in excess of 1/2. They’re also likely to make you jump through hoops a little bit, too. Sometimes a bookie will have an automatic system that credits you with your free bet when you’ve done what you need to, but other times you might need to input a special code.

Make sure that you check which way it works for your chosen bookmaker and do what’s necessary to ensure that you get what you’re owed. The most frustrating thing is when you sit down to watch a World Cup match thinking you’ve got a free bet coming your way, seeing the player you’ve placed your wager on score and then find out that you didn’t place your bet properly. Do your best to ensure that that doesn’t happen to you!

You’d also do well to see if there’s a limit to how much money you can win with your free bet. Say you’ve got a free bet token of £10 and the limit for the payout is £500, there’s no point in betting on something with odds of 60/1 with your free bet as it will mean that you’ll miss out on £100 of winnings that should be yours.

World Cup Offers For Existing Customers

customer loyaltyThe World Cup really is one of the favourite tournaments for bookmakers because they know that all sorts of people will be looking to placer a wager or two with them, even those that have no previous experience in doing so. For that reason there are often all sorts of offers and promotions available during the period of the tournament that you’ll want to take advantage of.

Here’s a look at some of them:

  • Acca Insurance – People love putting accumulators on on football matches. That’s especially true during something like the World Cup, when there are a high proportion of matches in short amount of time. Will you bet on every first match in the groups, for example? If so, keep an eye out for the bookies that promise you insurance should only one of your legs lose or an Acca boost if all of the legs you’re placed are winners.
  • Acca Bonuses – Acca Insurance is great if you are unsure of a selection or two but if you really back your knowledge and believe your acca will win you will be better of with a bonus that will enhance your winnings.  There are also acca free bet clubs for those that want to place several accas a week.
  • Price Boosts – Bookmakers know that one of the sure fire ways to win new customers is by promising them a boost to the odds on a given outcome. Normally the money will be paid as cash for the ‘normal’ odds and then as free bets for the remaining amount, but keeping your eye out for such boosts can see you in the money.
  • Free Bet Clubs – Plenty of bookmakers have loyalty schemes. They result in people betting a given amount of money being rewarded with free bets, provided all of their bets are placed with the same bookie over a certain period of time. It’s always worth looking to see what the criteria for the various schemes out there.
  • More Money For….. – As a football tournament, the World Cup presents an opportunity for punters to have a wager on players doing something in particular such as scoring twice or netting a hat-trick. Some bookmakers will offer you more money if you’ve placed a First Goalscorer bet and the player you’ve bet on goes on to score two, three or even more goals.  There are also insurance offers for extra time, penalties, if your team scores first and doesn’t win, 0-0 draws, etc.

Obviously this list is far from exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the sort of deals that you can take advantage of if you’re planning on having a couple of bets on the World Cup.

Information About The World Cup

Qualifying

england team celebrate international goalSince 1998, 32 teams have been invited to take part in the World Cup but this expanded to 48 teams in 2026. That doesn’t mean that all the teams invited take part in the main competition, however. Instead, a qualifying tournament is played in order to ensure that only the best teams are able to take part in the finals. FIFA splits teams into one of six continents, depending on where they are based geographically. Here’s what they are:

  • AFC – The Asian Football Confederation (8 or 9 places)
  • CAF – The Confederation of African Football (9 or 10 places)
  • CONCACAF – The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (6, 7 or 8 places)
  • CONMEBOL – The South American Football Confederation (6 or 7 places)
  • OFC – The Oceania Football Confederation (1 or 2 places)
  • UEFA: The Union Of European Football Associations (16 places)

Each continental zone is given an allotted number of places at the forthcoming World Cup, based largely on the perceived strength of the confederations. The various organisations are then entitled to come up with their own manner of qualification, with the aim being that only the very best teams get through. The host nations don’t need to go through this process, gaining a place in the World Cup automatically.

The highest runner-up from each confederation, apart from UEFA, go into an inter-confederation play-off to decide the final two spots.  The host confederation gets two spots, which is why CONCACAF for this World Cup can have 6, 7 or 8 places in the end.  The play-off involved a four game tournament to produce two winners from the six teams.

The Finals

england world cup game against panama in russia 2018Once the various teams that will represent each confederation have been decided upon, they will move on to play in the World Cup Finals proper. The competition usually takes place in the summer, though that was not be the case for the 2022 World Cup when it was hosted in Qatar and the heat in the country meant that the World Cup was be played in the winter instead.

For 2026 12 teams are seeded ahead of the tournament, with the three host nations being joined by nine others others. Each seeded team is put into a group and joined by three other teams, which are drawn at random. Those four teams then go head-to-head in a round robin tournament to decide upon the teams that will make it through to the knockout stage of the competition.

48 teamsThere are six matches in each group, as with previous editions, but the increase from 8 to 12 groups means there are now 72 group matches instead of 48 previously.  A new last 32 knockout round was also added increasing the number of knocout games from 16 to 32.  Overall there are now 104 games at the World Cup verus 64 previously.  Indeed, the length of the tournament has had to increase by a full week as a result, now taking place over 39 days instead of 32.

The winners and runner-up from each of the 12 groups make it through to the knockout rounds.  They are joined by the 8 best third-placed teams from the group phase.  These 32 teams then go up against each other, with group winners and the best runners-up playing against the lower runners-up and third placed teams from one of the other groups.

The way that the rounds work teams will know who their possible opponents will be right the way through to the final depending on which teams win which rounds.

The final sees the two semi-final winning teams go head-to-head to be declared world champions. There is also a third-place play-off between the two losing semi-finalists.

Previous Winners, Finals & Host Nations

YearHost NationFinalWinners
1930UruguayUruguay v ArgentinaUruguay
1934ItalyItaly v CzechoslovakiaItaly
1938FranceItaly v HungaryItaly
1950BrazilUruguay v BrazilUruguay
1954SwitzerlandHungary v West GermanyWest Germany
1958SwedenBrazil v SwedenBrazil
1962ChileBrazil v CzechoslovakiaBrazil
1966EnglandEngland v West GermanyEngland
1970MexicoBrazil v ItalyBrazil
1974West GermanyNetherlands v West GermanyWest Germany
1978ArgentinaArgentina v NetherlandsArgentina
1982SpainItaly v West GermanyItaly
1986MexicoArgentina v West GermanyArgentina
1990ItalyWest Germany v ArgentinaWest Germany
1994United States of AmericaBrazil v ItalyBrazil
1998FranceBrazil v FranceFrance
2002Japan & South KoreaBrazil v GermanyBrazil
2006GermanyFrance v ItalyItaly
2010South AfricaSpain v NetherlandsSpain
2014BrazilArgentina v GermanyGermany
2018RussiaCroatia v FranceFrance
2022QatarArgentina v FranceArgentina
2026USA/Canada/Mexico? v ??

As you might expect, the method of deciding the host nation for the World Cup is a complex one and has been involved in some controversy over the years. Above we look at the hosts for various years as well as the side that eventually won.

As you can see from the above table, no team has appeared in more finals that Germany if you include their appearances as a divided nation, whilst the host nation has won the tournament on six occasions to date.

A Potted History Of The World Cup

world cup trophy in the sandWhen England played Scotland in the world’s first ever international match in 1872, the game’s popularity proved that there was an appetite to see countries go up against each other. The result was the formation of the British Home Championship, which took place for the first time in 1884 and saw England, Scotland, Wales and the then-united Ireland go head-to-head to decide upon the best football team in Britain.

As football began to spread around the rest of the world, so too did the desire to see nations go up against each other. Football was played as a demonstration sport as part of the Summer Olympics in both 1900 and 1904. It was in the latter year that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association was formed, more popularly known as FIFA. In 1906 the newly formed organisation made an attempt at organising a competition of its own, but it wasn’t successful.

The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy

sir thomas lipton trophyIn 1908 football was included in the Olympics as a competitive event, though only amateur players were allowed to take part, which gave it the feeling of a show rather than a competitive version of the sport that was becoming ever more popular. Great Britain won the Gold medal, but the fact that not many people took it seriously annoyed Sir Thomas Lipton, the man behind the famous teas of the same name.

The result was that he organised his own football tournament in Turin in 1909. He invited football clubs from different countries to represent their homeland, resulting in Germany, Switzerland and Italy turning up. The competition lacked any English clubs because the country’s FA banned them all from taking part. This was a show of power from the Football Association at a time when FAs were all battling for superiority and the right to control the game.

FIFA Agrees To The Summer Olympics

football 1920 summer olympicsAs FIFA grew in strength and football began to settle down in terms of how it was run, the Summer Olympics continued to be the only tournament that counties from around the world were invited to take part in. Prior to the 1920 Summer Olympics FIFA finally agreed to recognise the football tournament as a ‘world football championship for amateurs’. The result being that the 1920 football tournament at the Summer Olympics was the first to be an official intercontinental offering.

FIFA became a professional organisation in 1924 and the Summer Olympics in both that year and in 1928 were seen as being ‘Open World Championships’. They were both won by Uruguay but, to use a cliche, football was the real winner. It was shown that there was a genuine desire to see football played in a competitive manner from teams all around the world, so the President of FIFA, Jules Rimet, began to push the organisation to host a tournament of its own that was not part of the Summer Olympics.

The First World Cup

jules rimet and original world cup on a stamp

Most of you will no doubt recognise the name of Jules Rimet, so it doesn’t take much to work out that he got his wish. The first World Cup was played in 1930 and hosted by Uruguay, with Rimet himself getting involved in order to ensure that Yugoslavia, Belgium, Romania and France were all willing to make the trip to South America from Europe in order to take part. In the end thirteen different nations took part in the inaugural World Cup, which was eventually won by Uruguay when they beat Argentina 4-2 in front of a crowds of 93,000 people.

Whilst it was obviously as a success as tournament, you must remember that travel wasn’t as easy back then as it is today. When the decision was taken get Italy to act as hosts for the World Cup in 1934, therefore, the South American teams did as many European sides had done four years earlier and mostly refused to travel. The same was true when France were hosts four years later, with just Brazil and Cuba coming from outside of Europe to take part in the competition.

British Teams Join & Tournament Expands

world cup stamp spain 1982The Second World War resulted in the World Cup not being hosted in either 1942 or 1946, when Germany and Brazil respectively were supposed to host. British teams, which had refused to join FIFA initially, were invited to join in 1946 and did so, making them eligible for the tournament that was to be hosted by Brazil in 1950. Uruguay were also happy to return to the fold after deciding not to take part in the World Cups hosted in Europe during the 1930s. They returned as defending champions despite the fact that both of the European tournaments were won by Italy, proving their worth by defeating Brazil 2-1 to retain their crown.

After the success of the World Cup in 1950 things began to change rather rapidly. The dominance of teams from Europe and South America was seen as something of a problem for FIFA to deal with, given that only the US, Cuba, North Korea and Mexico had made it out of the first round by the time that the 1970 iteration of the competition was complete. In 1982, therefore, the decision was taken to expand the tournament to 24 teams for the first time. The hope was the sides from Africa, North America and Asia would be able to be genuinely competitive and whilst they added to the entertainment and popularity of the competition, European and South American teams have continued to be the dominant force in it.

Controversies

qatar on a map pinned with a footballThe World Cup itself hasn’t necessarily been embroiled in too many controversies, unless you’re talking about moments on the pitch that caused a ruckus for the teams involved. A Thierry Henry handball during a qualifying match against the Republic of Ireland went unnoticed by the officials in the build-up to a goal, for example, allowing his team to score and French to make the finals at the expense of the Irish.

Yet FIFA themselves have been embroiled in numerous scandals that have then had an impact on the World Cup. The most obvious example came in 2015 when the organisation was engulfed by claims of bribery and corruption, with many believing that it influenced the awarded of the host nations. This was particularly likely in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, which is a small nation with little footballing heritage but plenty of money thanks to its access to oil.