Why FIFA changed the format for the 2026 World Cup

By Sanjit Gupta

Published on:

FIFA’s Council has approved a modification in the group stage format for the 2026 World Cup. Instead of having 16 groups consisting of three teams, there will now be 12 groups of four teams. This change results in an increase in the total number of matches played from 64 in the 2022 tournament held in Qatar to 104 matches in the upcoming World Cup. FIFA World Cup, 2026 fifa world cup,2026 fifa world cup,2026world cup cities,2026world cup cities,2026 worldcup tickets,2026 worldcup tickets,2026 world cupstadiums

FIFA World Cup,2026world cup cities,2026 worldcup tickets

WhatsApp Group (Join Now) Join Now
Telegram Group (Join Now) Join Now

To win a World Cup, a country must now compete in eight matches, which is an increase from the previous seven-match format that had been in use since 1974. 2026fifa world cup 2026fifa world cup

The knockout phase of the tournament will commence with a new round of 32, consisting of the top two teams from each group and the top eight third-place teams. However, the advancement of third-place teams was removed in 1998, following the expansion of the tournament from 24 teams to 32.


The alteration entails an increase in the number of matches to 104, which is twice the number played during the 1994 World Cup held in the United States. This is a significant rise from the 64 matches played in each tournament from 1998 through 2022, and even more than the 80 matches that were scheduled in the original 2026 format. The amplified number of matches would generate more programming for television broadcasters and offer additional tickets for sale, ultimately leading to a boost in FIFA’s revenue.


In January 2017, the Council adopted the original format for the 2026 tournament, which would have featured two teams playing on the final day of the group with one team off. However, concerns were raised about the potential for corruption with this format. In response, the current schedule was adopted, in which all teams in a group kick off simultaneously on the final day. This change was made in light of the Disgrace of Gijón at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where West Germany and Austria knew that a one- or two-goal win by the Germans would advance both nations at the expense of Algeria, which had played a day earlier. West Germany ultimately won 1-0, with Horst Hrubesch scoring in the 10th minute and neither team threatening after that.

WhatsApp Group (Join Now) Join Now
Telegram Group (Join Now) Join Now


The final date for FIFA has been confirmed as July 19th, however, the location for the event is yet to be announced. Currently, the three most prominent potential sites being considered are East Rutherford, New Jersey; Arlington, Texas; and Inglewood, California. 2026 world cupstadiums 2026 world cupstadiums

There has been no specific duration set for the upcoming tournament, but it’s anticipated to span between 38 to 42 days. This timeframe represents an increase from the 29-day duration of last year’s tournament in Qatar and the 32-day duration of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In contrast, the 1994 tournament took place from June 17 to July 17.


FIFA has declared that clubs must release their players for national team duty by May 25, one day after the completion of the final pre-World Cup matches in their respective leagues. Nevertheless, continental finals, such as the Champions League, may occur until May 30, subject to FIFA’s authorization. Following the mandatory release date, a rest period is observed, which means training is permitted, but national team friendlies are not. FIFA has confirmed that the total duration of rest, release, and tournament remains the same as the previous three FIFA World Cups held in 2010, 2014, and 2018, which amounts to 56 days.

Leave a Comment