FIFA announced on Thursday that the 2006 World Cup will take place between June 11 and July 11, 2010, and granted South Africa an automatic berth as host nation.
FIFA's executive committee decided to maintain the qualifying set-up used at this year's World Cup in Germany, with a berth for the host country plus five other Africa teams, five European region qualifiers, five Asian and Oceania teams, and a total of eight for South America and the Central American region.
"We didn't change anything," FIFA president Sepp Blatter told journalists, adding that only two members of the committee had voiced objections.
The decision effectively gives Africa one extra team in 2010 and Europe one less, although that regional balance is likely to change again in subsequent World Cups, officials said.
Blatter reiterated concern at the lack of progress on building work for new stadiums in South Africa, despite assurances from the chief executive of the 2010 organisers, Danny Joordan, that it would start in the first qaurter of 2007.
"We have not fixed a deadline now but we have said that they should bring a little bit of fire to the preparations," Blatter told journalists.