OthersFifa Announces 2026 World Cup - To Feature 12 Groups Of 4...

Fifa Announces 2026 World Cup – To Feature 12 Groups Of 4 Teams And 104 Matches

The World Cup in Qatar last year had a total of 32 teams that played 64 matches. FIFA announced recently that 48 teams will take part in the 2026 World Cup which will play 104 matches. The event will be hosted by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and there will be 16 host cities. The teams in these countries will all automatically qualify for the World Cup.

An expanded format

The number of groups will increase from eight to 12. The top two teams in a group and the top eight teams in third place will go into the knockout phase of 32. In the final round, the teams will have to play eight matches rather than seven, and the final will take place on July 19, 2025. The footprint of the event will be the same as the 2010, 2014, and 2018 World Cups.

Most of the games will be played in the U.S., and sports lovers will have plenty of opportunities to place bets. This is good news for the growing number of soccer viewers in the U.S. Online betting is now legal in more than 30 states and offers fans the convenience of being able to place bets at online sportsbooks.

Why FIFA changed the format

There was drama with several of the nail-biting finishes in the group stage in Qatar. Officials were concerned that teams could be eliminated having played only two games in a group of three. The revised format of the World Cup ensures that all the teams will play at least three matches. FIFA will obviously increase its revenue due to more ticket sales and content for TV broadcasts. The revised schedule will also provide more balanced rest time between competing teams.

FIFA made its decisions after thoroughly reviewing several factors, including sporting integrity and player welfare. They also took commercial attractiveness and the experience fans would have into account.

Where will the extra week come from? 

The extra week for the tournament will be found by cutting the pre-tournament release period. Soccer teams will need to release players for the World Cup from May 25, 2026, unless they are in a major final. A total of 16 spots are available in the final tournament so the European clubs need to plan well to adjust player’s schedules.

Criticism for FIFA’s decisions

When the heads of the six confederations met with FIFA’s president, they didn’t raise any objections to the proposed format. The decision was confirmed at a meeting of FIFA’s governing council.

However, FIFA’s announcement received mixed reactions from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). Although the PFA was glad that FIFA had prioritized the need to rest between games, it was concerned about the effect on players of the expanded domestic and international schedule. CEO Maheta Molango said that players already have a heavy workload and now they will have to play more games than they played in the Qatar World Cup. He is caring about the physical and mental effects on players of the extended format.

La Liga critiqued FIFA’s bad habit of disrespecting national leagues and making decisions without consultation about the global soccer calendar.

Which city will host the final?

The host cities are affected by FIFA’s decision as they will have to restructure their plans to include more games. They will have to make sure sponsorships for games add enough revenue to offset costs. Organizers will have to clear more dates for games in the cities chosen to host.

The host city of the final has not been confirmed but many see it as happening in either Dallas or New York/New Jersey. The AT&T Stadium in Dallas is the largest stadium of any host city in the U.S. The MetLife Stadium in New York doesn’t have the same capacity but it was the proposed site for the final when the bid was presented to FIFA.