FIFA Announces Expansion: World Cup 2026 to Host 48 Teams

FIFA Announces Expansion: World Cup 2026 to Host 48 Teams

FIFA expands 2026 World Cup to 48 teams, increasing matches to 104 and doubling venues, with projected revenues reaching $11 billion.


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  • FIFA has announced a significant format change for the 2026 men’s World Cup, expanding the tournament to 12 groups of four teams, totaling 48 teams.
  • The tournament will now feature 104 matches, and the number of venues will double, with eleven in the USA, three in Mexico, and two in Canada.
  • FIFA projects an increase in revenues to $11 billion, up from $7.5 billion in the previous cycle.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has announced a significant alteration to the format of the 2026 men’s World Cup, which will be hosted by North America.

The tournament will now consist of 12 groups with four teams each, an expansion from the initially planned 8 groups with 4 teams.

This groundbreaking move will see the first World Cup to feature 48 teams, a considerable increase from the 32 teams participating in the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

FIFA stated that the updated structure aims to minimize the risk of collusion between teams while ensuring that all participants play a minimum of three matches and receive balanced rest periods.

As a result, the 2026 World Cup will feature 104 matches, significantly more than the 64 games played in the 2022 tournament, and even surpassing the original proposal of 80 matches for the 2026 event.

Previously, FIFA’s plan for the 2026 World Cup included 16 groups of three teams, with the top two countries from each group advancing to the last 32.

In the newly-adopted format, the top two teams from each group, along with the eight best third-placed sides, will proceed to the knockout round. Consequently, the finalists and the teams in third and fourth place will play a total of eight games, up from the current seven.

The decision to revise the format was influenced by the dynamic group stage at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, which prompted FIFA to reevaluate the initial blueprint for 2026.

The announcement was made during a FIFA Council meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda, where the organization also confirmed that the 2026 men’s World Cup final would be held on Sunday, July 19.

The overall duration of the tournament may be extended, as the 2022 World Cup was held over just 29 days.

FIFA clarified that the total number of days between club player release and the final match would remain the same as in the previous three tournaments, at 56 days.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who is currently unopposed for re-election, had made expanding the World Cup a priority since his election in 2016.

The number of venues for the 2026 finals will double from eight in Qatar to 16, with eleven in the USA, three in Mexico, and two in Canada.

In addition to the format changes, FIFA also anticipates a considerable increase in revenue in the four-year cycle leading up to the 2026 event.

Projections estimate revenues of up to $11 billion, compared to the $7.5 billion generated between 2018 and 2022.

This substantial expansion of the World Cup is set to create new opportunities for countries to participate in the prestigious tournament, fostering global football development and offering a more inclusive platform for the sport.

With an increased number of matches and a longer tournament duration, the 2026 World Cup promises to be a historic event for football enthusiasts worldwide.

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