FIFA Approves New Format for the World Cup 2026

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The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) approved a new format for the World Cup, which will begin in the 2026 edition with the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

With these changes, the most important soccer tournament will go from 29 to 40 days of competition between June and July, leaving a total of 104 games and the integration of the round of 16 phase at the end.

The FIFA Council held its meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, where it determined to approve the new format of the 2026 World Cup.

This is the third format change in the World Cup in the last 50 years, after extending the tournament from 16 to 24, from 24 to 32 between 1970 and 1998, and now with this change from 32 to 48.

The last change was in France ’98, when it went from 24 to 32 teams, a format that was maintained until Qatar 2022, at 48.

According to FIFA, the group stage, round of 16, round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and grand final will be maintained.

For the direct elimination round, the first two and the eight best third parties will pass the group stage, which will be defined according to the already defined criteria.

In total, from this 2026 World Cup, the World Cup will have 104 matches; that is, 40 more than in the format that was until Qatar World Cup 2022.

World Cup 2026 Format

  • 104 games in total
  • 12 groups of 4 teams
  • Qualifiers from 16th. of end
  • The first 2 and the 8 best third parties by group advance

Not Always

FIFA had planned to create 16 groups of three teams, looking for the first two to advance.

However, the measure was questioned for removing emotion from the last day of the group stage at the same time and opening the possibility of allowing “conspiracy” to design the result they need.

The extension of the World Cup to 48 teams has left opinions divided: emotions, especially in the smaller nations; concern in the union about the high demand in the summer; and a decrease in the quality of the event.

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