Starting in 2026, the World Cup will be drastically different. The FIFA Council unanimously approved an expansion to 48 teams that had been campaigned for by FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Heres everything you need to know.
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The FIFA Council unanimously decided on a 48-teamWorldCupas of 2026:
From each group, two teams will advance to a 32-team knockout stage. FIFA said the plans for the new style wont change the overall number of rest days and guarantee a maximum of seven matches for teams reaching the final, with the tournament lasting 32 days.
This overall decision is concerning for some who feel that the current 32-team format is perfect. The addition of teams could water down the cup and also make World Cup Qualifying less important at certain stages. Well see exactly how it will impact both when information about the additional spots.
The decision was taken following a thorough analysis, based on a report that included four different format options. The study took into account such factors as sporting balance, competition quality, impact on football development, infrastructure, projections on financial position and the consequences for event delivery. Over the course of its next meetings, the FIFA Council is set to discuss further details regarding the competition, including the slot allocation per confederation.
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The format modification is the first since the 1998 World Cup, where it changed to 32 teams from 24. The 2026 World Cup, where we will see this change, currently sees theUnited States as the favorite to host.
Approved: The FIFA World Cup will have 48 teams and drastically change in format
There were no details released as to the number of additional spots each confederation would get, but the expectation is at least two for each. Keep in mind that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will still be played with 32 teams.
On Monday, it had been reported by The Associated Press that the ruling councilwas expected to approvethe format change. There will now be 16 groups with three teams each.
As for why, its simple — money. As noted on Monday, the changecould bring in an additional $640 million.