FIFA approves new format for expanded 2026 World Cup

FIFA has confirmed the new format for the expanded 2026 World Cup.

The tournament will be co-hosted by USA, Mexico and Canada with forty-eight teams set to take part.

This is an increase by twelve teams from the 32 sides that have been qualifying for the competition.

In council meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda, FIFA ammendend the number of groups in the 2026 World Cup, from initially proposed 16 groups of three to 12 groups of four.

The top two teams from each group and eight best third-placed teams will progress to the round of 32.

The new format will increase the number of games to a total of 108 matches.

A statement from FIFA reads: “Based on a thorough review that considered sporting integrity, player welfare, team travel, commercial and sporting attractiveness, as well as team and fan experience, the FIFA Council unanimously approved the proposed amendment to the FIFA World Cup 2026 competition format from 16 groups of three to 12 groups of four with the top two and eight best third-placed teams progressing to a round of 32.

“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.”

Meanwhile, FIFA schedule the World Cup 2026 final to be played on Sunday, 19 July 2026, with the mandatory release period starting on 25 May 2026, following the last official club match on 24 May 2026.



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