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This is how the 2026 World Cup is supposed to look like. FIFA is planning revolutions

This is how the 2026 World Cup is supposed to look like. FIFA is planning revolutions

This is how the 2026 World Cup is supposed to look like. FIFA is planning revolutions

The World Cup in Qatar, currently entering its decisive phase, will be the last in its current formula. The World Cup, which will take place in North America in four years, and more precisely in three countries: the United States, Mexico and Canada, will be played under different rules. The number of participating teams will increase from 32 to 48 teams.

FIFA changes the rules. A real revolution

Increasing the number of World Cup participants is a logistical challenge for people working on the organization of this event, so that everything is buttoned up. Such changes mean that between the last World Cup in the United States, held in 1994, and the upcoming one in 2026, the number of teams will double. At that time, only 24 teams competed for the title of world champion in the USA.

FIFA considers new tournament formats:

  • 16 groups – 3 teams in each. Two teams will advance to the playoffs;
  • 12 groups – 4 teams in each. Two teams will advance to the playoffs plus the best third-place teams;
  • Division of teams into two 24-team halves. 6 groups of 4 teams each. The winner of the whole half goes to the final

At the beginning, FIFA was enthusiastic about holding the World Cup in a formula of 16 groups of 3 teams, but recently this state of affairs has changed. The world headquarters has started to analyze the possibility of a possible match-up between teams in the last matches, so that two teams will advance to the knockout stage. There were even theories about the introduction of settling group matches that end in a draw, through a possible penalty shootout – we described this topic in more detail HERE>>>.

“It’s not decided yet,” admitted FIFA’s director of football development Arsene Wenger. This will be done by the FIFA Council and I believe it will be next year.

World Cup in 2026. What awaits us?

Sixteen European teams will qualify for the World Cup. Only ten so far. Africa will send nine representatives, not five, as was the case. There will be nine teams from Asia instead of four. In South America, not much will change, because instead of four, six will go. Six teams will be able to come from North America, not just three teams as before. The last continent, i.e. Ocenia, will receive one certain place instead of a play-off. Additionally, two teams will go to the tournament after winning the intercontinental play-off.

The group stage of the 48-team World Cup according to The Athletic:

  • Group A: Qatar, Egypt, Jamaica
  • Group B: Portugal, Peru, Algeria
  • Group C: Italy, Iran, Panama
  • Group D: USA, Uruguay, UAE
  • Group E: Croatia, Nigeria, El Salvador
  • Group F: Germany, Tunisia, Mali
  • Group G: Brazil, Canada, Ghana
  • Group H: Switzerland, Senegal, Costa Rica
  • Group I: Spain, Serbia, North Macedonia
  • Group J: Argentina, PolandCameroon
  • Group K: England, Japan, New Zealand
  • Group L: Denmark, Chile, Ecuador
  • Group M: Mexico, South Korea, Oman
  • Group N: Belgium, Colombia, Saudi Arabia
  • Group O: Netherlands, Australia, Scotland
  • Group P: France, Morocco, Turkey

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