The men’s FIFA World Cup will have 104 matches instead of the traditional 64 games due to an expanded format with 48 teams taking part.
The format was approved on Tuesday at a meeting of the governing council of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body and the organizer of the World Cup
The 2026 edition, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, will be the first of the quadrennial tournament where 48 teams participate.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar had 32 teams with a total of 64 matches completed in 29 days. There were only 24 teams the last time Mexico (1986) and the United States (1994) hosted a World Cup.
The tournament has had 32 teams since the 1998 edition, with eight groups of four and the finalists playing seven games each. But teams reaching the summit clash in 2026 will now play eight matches in total.
The original plan for the 2026 edition had a total of 80 matches but the decision to increase the number of games to 104 was approved by FIFA’s council at a meeting on Tuesday.
The new format will also stick to drawing four teams in a group after a proposal for a three-team group was shot down over fears of collusion.
Traditionally the top two teams from each group advance to the last 16 but the 2026 edition will also have the eight best third-placed teams moving into the knockout round of 32.
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