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FIFA Confirms 2026 World Cup Format Change


FIFA has confirmed the format for the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted across three countries: the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The tournament will feature a record 104 games, including a new last-32 stage, after FIFA scrapped its controversial plans for three-team groups.

The extended 48-team tournament will run for 38 or 39 days, as opposed to the 32 days in Qatar, and will consist of 12 groups of four.

The top two teams and the eight best third-placed teams will progress to the knockout stages, this means there will be 40 more matches than were played in Qatar in 2022, which has raised concerns about player welfare.

FIFA faced extensive pressure behind the scenes to scrap the three-group format.

One of the biggest concerns was the possibility of unofficial deals being struck in the last match if both teams needed a high-scoring draw to go through on goal difference.

On the decision to change the format, FIFA, said: “Thorough review that considered sporting integrity, player welfare, team travel, commercial and sporting attractiveness, as well as team and fan experience.”

“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,” the organisation said.

The news comes after the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup announced a broadcast partnership with Sport 24.

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