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FIFA Said 2026 World Cup Will Feature 12 Groups Of 4 Teams


FIFA, the world governing body of football, confirmed on Tuesday that the expanded 2026 men’s World Cup in North America will begin with 12 groups of four teams rather than the 16 groups of three originally anticipated.

48 teams will compete in the upcoming World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, a significant increase from the 32 teams who competed in the competition in Qatar last year.

The updated structure “minimizes the danger of collusion, ensures that all teams play a minimum of three matches, and provides balanced recovery time between competing teams,” according to FIFA.

It means that there will be 104 matches, which is a significant increase over the 64 matches played in the 2022 World Cup and even over the initial intention for the 2026 World Cup to include 80 matches.

FIFA‘s original schedule for 2026 was for 16 groups of three teams, with the top two nations moving forward to the round of 32.

The top two teams from each group, together with the eight best third-place teams, will advance to the knockout phase under the newly established structure.

As a result, instead of the current seven games, the finalist teams as well as the third and fourth-place teams will play a total of eight games.

FIFA made the decision after the tournament’s exciting and entertaining group stage in Qatar persuaded the organization that a revision to its original 2026 plan was necessary.

Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, claimed in December that the groups of four were “simply spectacular” up until the very last minute of the final game.

During a meeting of the FIFA Council in the Rwandan capital Kigali, it was decided Tuesday that the 2026 World Cup final for men will take place on Sunday, July 19.

According to FIFA, there will be 56 days overall between when clubs must stop playing and release players for international service and the championship game, which is the same as it was for the previous three competitions.

Yet, given that Qatar 2022 was only hosted for 29 days, it’s possible that the World Cup itself will be played over a lengthier period.

Club World Cup with more Games

Although he is running unopposed for re-election at the FIFA Congress on Thursday, Infantino is anticipated to be sworn in for a new four-year term as president.

After being elected in 2016 to succeed the disgraced Sepp Blatter as the president of world football, Infantino made expanding the World Cup a top aim.

Until it expanded to 32 teams in France four years later, the 1994 World Cup in the United States included just 24 teams.

Compared to last year, when the finals were held in Qatar, there will be twice as many sites for the 2026 edition.

With three in Mexico and two in Canada, there will be eleven venues in the USA.

FIFA forecasts a significant increase in revenue, from $7.5 billion in the four years up to 2022 to $11 billion in the cycle leading up to 2026.

The organization also anticipates increased revenue from a new, 32-team Club World Cup.

FIFA stated Tuesday the competition will commence in June 2025 and will be conducted every four years with club rankings determining qualification.

The current seven-team Club World Cup, which will be cancelled after the 2023 edition, will be replaced by an annual competition.

The six continental club champions will compete each year, and the competition will culminate in a match between the winner of the UEFA Champions League and the other team that won the play-off.

The yearly competition was authorized “given the necessity stated by the confederations for the champions of their premier club competitions to face one other annually to boost competition,” according to FIFA.

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