KIGALI, Rwanda — The huge World Cup to be played in North America will expand further.
FIFA increased the size of the 2026 tournament for the second time on Tuesday — six years after the first change — by approving a larger group stage in what will be the first World Cup with 48 teams.
By preserving groups of four teams instead of reducing them to three, soccer’s governing body has devised a 104-game schedule that will span nearly weeks in the months of June and July in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The 16 host cities — 11 in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada — will now have an additional 24 games to host on top of the 80 already planned.
With 1.5 million additional tickets, FIFA will be able to earn more for its coffers — at least $11 billion through 2026 in a tournament that will be played mostly in the giant NFL club stadiums.
FIFA said that the decision responded to a complete analysis that took into consideration the integrity of the tournament, the well-being of the players, the transfers of the teams, the commercial and sports.
He added that the new format “mitigates the risk of collusion (between teams on the last date of the group stage) and ensures that all teams play a minimum of three games, while providing balanced rest time between teams.” participants”.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s push to play more matches and expand tournaments in a congested calendar is sure to heighten the misgivings of domestic leagues and players, represented by the FIFPRO union. They have been complaining that FIFA keeps them on the sidelines in consultations on the future of the future.
( America attacker Alex Zendejas decides to play for USA instead of Mexico )
The six-week World Cup will take place a year after FIFA launches the first 32-team Club World Cup, which will be held in North America to test the logistics of the tournament. The Champions League will also launch a new format with more teams and games from the 2024-25 season.
Since France 1998, the World Cups have been played by 32 teams, with eight groups of four. The finalists finished with a total of seven games each, but those who reached the duel for the title will add eight duels in total.
In the World Cup in Qatar last year, won by Argentina, 64 games were staged in 29 days.
Only 24 teams participated the last time Mexico (1986) and the United States (1994) organized a World Cup. Canada will host for the first time.