Home Football FIFA confirms new 48-team World Cup format for 2026

FIFA confirms new 48-team World Cup format for 2026

by Wale Gbadebo
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FIFA has confirmed their decision to revert back to a four-team group format for the 2026 World Cup.

The next World Cup, which will be held across the USA, Mexico and Canada, will feature 48 countries instead of 32.

Due to the increase in the number of participating teams, the tournament was set to feature 16 groups of three.

However, the proposed format was called into question following an exciting final round of group games at the 2022 World Cup.

Ahead of the 73rd FIFA Congress in Rwanda, the FIFA Council have confirmed a number of important announcements, including the decision to switch the 2026 World Cup back to a four-team group format.

The move will expand the competition from the initial proposal of 80 matches to 104, which will result in a new round-of-32 stage.

Countries that finish in the top two or rank as one of the eight best third-placed teams will advance to the knockout rounds.

Commenting on the decision, FIFA said: “The revised format mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all the teams play a minimum of three matches, while providing balanced rest time between competing teams.”

FIFA also confirmed the men’s international calendar from 2025 to 2030, which includes the decision to play the World Cup final on Sunday, 19 July 2026.

Football’s world governing body also announced that the women’s football calendar will continue with six international windows per year for 2024 and 2025.

Following concerns about player well-being due to the club and international schedule, FIFA have set up a task force to look at player welfare.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “FIFA promoted a truly global approach to the discussions on the international match calendar, which considered the perspectives of all key stakeholders.

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