2026 FIFA World Cup format: FIFA set to announce new World Cup format

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The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first to have 48 teams and be played in three different countries.

When the FIFA World Cup comes in 2026, it will mark a new age for football. It will be the first tournament to be hosted by three countries and will also feature 48 teams. The new division of teams came with criticism, but in an effort to make the tournament more inclusive and also to make money, FIFA expanded the number of teams.

Much has been made about the type of format of the new tournament given the number of teams. Now, according to The Athletic, the new format is to be approved by the FIFA Council.

Despite talk of possible groups of 3 or play-ins, the tournament will have a similar structure to the 24-team tournament days last played in the USA in 1994. This is what the new FIFA World Cup would look like.

New 2026 World Cup format

Pending FIFA council approval, the new 2026 FIFA World Cup tournament would breakdown as follows

  • 12 groups of 4 teams, 3 games each
  • Top 2 + 8 best 3rd-place go to Round of 32
  • Combined rest, release, tournament days 56 (same as 2010/14/18 WCs)
  • Max 8 games, up from 7
  • Final – Sunday July 19

The new format of 48 teams already has bids for the 2030 World Cup featuring as many as four nations pitching to co-host the tournament. FIFA is set to make the announcement of new format in the coming days.

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