What will be the format and how many games will the 2026 World Cup be?

What will be the format and how many games will the 2026 World Cup be?

World Cup | The FIFA Council approved, this Tuesday, the format that will be used in the 2026 World Cup, which will have the United States, Mexico and Canada as host countries. As the American press had already said, the first phase of the world cup will be divided into 12 groups of four teams. With that, the event totaled 104 matches, 24 more than the previously suggested format predicted, in which the selections would be divided into 16 groups of three.

In a statement, the organization said that the decision to change the form of dispute was taken after “a thorough analysis that considered the sporting integrity, the well-being of the players, the travel of the selections, the commercial and sporting attractiveness, as well as the experience of the team and the fans”

FIFA put into practice one of the main objectives of the current management by increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48, which was made official last year, but there were doubts about the ideal format to accommodate more teams.

The initial idea was to start the dispute within a scheme with 16 groups of three teams. The top two from each group would advance to the second phase, prior to the round of 16. Despite the additional stage, as each team would play only two games in the group stage, the maximum of seven games for the nations that reached the furthest would be maintained, as in previous editions.

In the model with 12 groups of four, there will be three matches in the first phase and the next stage, with 32 selections, will be maintained. Therefore, both the champion and the runner-up as well as the teams that dispute the third place will make a total of eight games.

The reformulation came after FIFA identified problems with the first suggested format. The main one is the possibility of combining results between the two teams on the field, since, within a group of three selections, one of them will always be resting. Also negatively evaluated is elimination after just two matches.

“The revised format mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all teams play a minimum of three matches, providing balanced rest time between competing teams,” FIFA said in a statement.

The main enthusiast of the changes in the World Cup, the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, will remain in charge for another term. The entity’s elections will be this week, but he will be re-elected, since his candidacy is the only one. Infantino had already unsuccessfully tried to implement other changes, such as holding a World Cup every two years.

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