The 2026 World Cup will feature 104 matches due to the expanded format with 48 teams participating, global soccer governing body FIFA announced on Tuesday.
The plan to increase the number of matches from 64 (in the 32-team tournament in Qatar in 2022) was approved by FIFA’s Council at a meeting on Tuesday in Kigali, Rwanda.
The 2026 World Cup also will retain the four-team group pairings as opposed to opting for three-team groups.
“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,” FIFA wrote on its official website. “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 2026 World Cup final will take place on July 19.
The U.S. men’s national team, along with Mexico and Canada, automatically will qualify for the 2026 World Cup.
Those three countries won the right to host the World Cup in a united North American bid. FIFA historically has given host nations the right to play in the World Cup without going through the usual qualification tournaments, though this is the first time FIFA had to set aside three host bids.
–Field Level Media