Expanded 2026 World Cup to feature 48 teams and new last-32 stage


The 2026 World Cup will feature 12 four-team teams and a last-32 knockout spherical for the primary time.

The format for the 48-team match, to be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, was accredited at a gathering of the Fifa Council in Kigali, Rwanda on Tuesday.

The sport’s international governing physique ditched plans for 16 three-team teams, having acknowledged the “risk of collusion” in that format and additionally having been persuaded to follow four-team teams after the drama that unfolded on the finish of the group part on the final World Cup in Qatar, which was the final match to feature 32 teams.

Winners and runners-up in every of the 12 four-team teams will advance to a new spherical of 32, the place they are going to be joined by the eight greatest third-placed teams. In all, the new format will contain 104 matches being performed.

Chelsea and Real Madrid have secured locations at Fifa’s new-look, 32-team Club World Cup in 2025 after that competitors’s entry record was additionally accredited by the Council.

Europe has 12 spots within the new match, with the primary 4 going to the Champions League winners in every of the 4 years main up to 2025. Chelsea had been (*48*) champions in 2021, with Real victorious final 12 months.

Europe’s different eight spots within the new Club World Cup can be awarded on a membership rating system over the four-year interval main into the finals.

Manchester City and Liverpool are at the moment second and third respectively within the Uefa membership coefficient rankings, so might have a powerful probability of qualifying.

However, the variety of golf equipment per nation can be capped at two, besides the place a rustic has greater than two Champions League winners within the four-year interval.

FIFA stated it’s also trying to preserve an annual membership competitors from 2024. This would contain the Champions League winners dealing with the group rising from play-offs between continental champions from the opposite 5 confederations at a impartial venue.

The 2026 World Cup may have the identical 56-day general ‘footprint’ of relaxation, launch and match days because the three most up-to-date summer time finals in 2010, 2014 and 2018, Fifa stated.

However, the 2026 finals are anticipated to final 38 or 39 days, that means a preparation time of round 14 days. The 2014 and 2018 finals lasted 32 days.

The Council additionally accredited the new males’s and girls’s worldwide match calendars on the assembly.

The males’s calendar was fastened for the 2025 to 2030 interval, with the most important change being the introduction of a 16-day, four-match worldwide window in late September and early October to exchange the separate September and October home windows that are at the moment in place.

The girls’s worldwide match calendar for 2024-25 options six home windows because it does at the moment, with window varieties various between the confederations.

The Council has additionally accredited the institution of a participant welfare job pressure which can take a look at the implementation of obligatory, worldwide relaxation intervals.

Ffia president Gianni Infantino stated: “Our fundamental objective is to have clarity on this topic, and to have meaningful football matches while protecting the well-being of the players and recognising that many regions need more competitive football.”

Maheta Molango, the chief govt of the Professional Footballers’ Association, welcomed the announcement of a participant welfare job pressure however expressed deep considerations relating to the plans for the 2026 World Cup.

“The football calendar needs a complete reset,” he stated.

“The expanded World Cup format being introduced for 2026 signifies that, but once more, extra video games are being compelled into an already overcrowded schedule.

“It is true that FIFA have listened to gamers’ considerations and introduced a working group to deal with the vital points surrounding fixture congestion and participant welfare.

“It can be encouraging to see that key considerations raised with Fifa by the PFA, equivalent to the necessity for no less than 72 hours between video games, a compulsory break day every week, and an annual relaxation interval, are being prioritised.

We know that the present workload gamers face is having an ongoing affect on their wellbeing…We can’t merely push them till they break

PFA chief govt Maheta Molango

“When Gianni Infantino came to Manchester to meet with us last year, these were the changes that our Premier League and WSL members said they wanted to see.

“However, it’s very difficult to see how that aligns with the constant expansion of the domestic and international calendar.

“We know that the current workload players face is having an ongoing impact on their wellbeing, both on and off the pitch. We can’t simply push them until they break.”


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