The expanded 2026 World Cup format has been changed back to four-team groups by FIFA. Sixteen groups of three teams were expected to compete in the competition in the US, Mexico, and Canada due to the increase from 32 to 48 teams.
However, the success of the four-team format at the Qatar 2022 World Cup led the governing body to change its mind.
With the change, there will be 104 matches total, up from the anticipated 80 matches and adding a new round-of-32 stage.
According to FIFA, the top two teams and the eight best third-place teams would advance to the round of 32.
“The revised format mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all the teams play a minimum of three matches, while providing balanced rest time between competing teams,” said the world football’s governing body at a council meeting held in Rwanda.
After the group stages in Qatar featured some exciting matches, Fifa president Gianni Infantino stated in December that the organization was considering a format change.
Since the men’s World Cup’s expansion to 32 teams in 1998, the four-team group format has been in use, with the top two moving on to the knockout rounds.
Teams will now play eight matches in order to win the tournament, up from seven at the 2022 World Cup, due to the new round-of-32 format.
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