Kigali, Rwanda — Soccer’s 2026 North American World Cup, already the biggest and longest in the history of the tournament thanks to expanded stadiums, grows further as FIFA leaders agree format change to add 24 matches are doing. original plan.
This change will result in the Marathon Men’s Football Championship, with 48 teams playing 104 matches over nearly 40 days in three countries, with eight matches each for the champions, runners-up, and third- and fourth-placed teams. It will be. instead of the current seven.
The format was approved on Tuesday at a meeting of the governing council of FIFA, football’s global governing body and host of the World Cup.
“I think it’s a good idea,” FIFA vice president and head of football in North America Victor Montagliani told reporters after the meeting.
The total number of games in the World Cup will be 104, a significant increase from previous plans for 80 games and 40 more than last year’s Qatar Games, which featured 32 teams. Montagliani said the tournament would be no bigger than the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, the last of which were held using the traditional June-July tournament calendar.
The change will also require organizers to open more dates in the 16 cities they have chosen to host the World Cup, creating challenges for stadium officials juggling summer sports, concerts and other events. there is a possibility. Montagliani has hinted at discussing where and how the additional games will be played, but has not ruled out adding additional organizers.
Hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, the 2026 tournament will be the first World Cup to feature 48 teams from 32 countries that have competed since 1998.
Early discussions centered on dividing the team into 16 groups of 3 people each. But after a disappointing group stage result in Qatar last year, officials feared a situation in which a group of three teams could be manipulated and eliminated after just two matches, and FIFA has called the matter to the table. was reconsidered.
The heads of the six football confederations met with FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Monday night, and no one objected to the proposed formula. The formal approval was given at a meeting of the 36-member FIFA Administrative Council on Tuesday. This council usually rubber-stamps the proposals agreed upon by the six regional mayors.
Montagliani said the idea of changing the format took shape after the Qatar World Cup, which saw some disappointing finishes in the group stage. The final games were played simultaneously to ensure that no single team would benefit from knowing the outcome of rival games.
Adding games adds days. Such periods can anger player unions and clubs concerned about the heavy workload placed on the stars of the games. We said we would extend it for 7 days.
The North American World Cup is the first version of the men’s tournament awarded since Infantino took over as FIFA president in 2016. The expansion has been celebrated by many of the governing body’s smaller member states because of the expanded qualification opportunities, and many fans, given the billions of dollars in additional revenue it will generate. and commentators expressed concern that the move would degrade the quality of the event.
Infantino predicts the 2026 World Cup will produce record-breaking paydays. FIFA has budgeted $11 billion in revenue over the four years to 2026, nearly $4 billion more than the Qatar World Cup generated in the same period.
One way to mitigate the impact of longer tournaments is to shorten their preparation period. Previously, qualifying teams took him three weeks. (This period was shortened to a week before the first Qatar event in November and December, making it the centerpiece of the season for many domestic leagues.)
Montagliani said call-ups will almost certainly be shortened to ensure the competition stays within the quota planned before Tuesday’s change, which could mean up to six matches per day in the group stage. said to be sexual.
Montagliani has previously questioned whether the health implications for players would be as serious as the players’ union warned.
“There’s only one game left,” he said, adding, “I think most teams will take it.”
There is also more clarity about the future hosts of the 2030 World Cup. Morocco said it will participate in European tenders that include Spain, Portugal and Ukraine. The addition of Morocco should help European nations secure important votes from African nations in competing with multinational proposals from South America and a Saudi-led agenda that includes Egypt and Greece.
Morocco is one of the most influential African nations in FIFA’s orbit, losing back-to-back World Cup bids. When the national team reached the semi-finals in Qatar, becoming the first team from the African continent to reach the semi-finals, they were determined to move forward with the competition once again.
FIFA also made other tournament decisions at the conference. Following FIFA’s announcement that it has agreed to host a new 32-team Club World Cup as a quadrennial event to be held for the first time in 2025, a new competition for clubs for the winners of the regional championships. An annual tournament was created. The venue has yet to be determined, but the teams will be divided into eight groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the single-elimination event, which will be used at the Qatar World Cup. format is the same as
It’s unclear where FIFA will find the extra space in the 64-match Club World Cup calendar, which runs longer than the Confederations Cup. The Confederations Cup is a little-loved national team competition that was discontinued after the last tournament was held in Russia in 2017.