The world’s football governing body, FIFA, on Monday, at its 73rd Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, approved a 12-group, 104 matches format for the 2026 World Cup billed to hold in U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The number of participating nations would increase from 32 teams to 48 teams for the following World Cup, and the competition’s format had been subject to rumors since it was first revealed last year.
Several sources said that FIFA had thought about using a 16-group structure with three teams in each group, with the top-finishing nations moving directly into the round of 16.
Also, some media outlets mocked the idea of using a penalty shootout to choose the winner in the group stage.
However, the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to scrap 16 groups of three to 12 groups of four, with the top two and eight best third-place teams advancing to a round of 32 and has approved the amendments to the proposed FIFA World Cup 2026 format. The next World Cup will feature 104 matches, up from the previous seven, with three matches being guaranteed for each participating country and a maximum of eight for the semi-finalists and winners.
According to them, the new format “minimizes the danger of collusion, assures that all the teams play a minimum of three matches, and provides balanced rest time between contending teams.”
The FIFA World Cup 2026 final has been set for Sunday, July 19, 2026, according to the decision made at the meeting.