The biggest football tournament in the world will be even bigger than that, according to the decision of the sport’s governing body.
The 2026 World Cup will feature 104 matches, 40 more than in 2022, due to the revised format of the 48 participating teams.
Hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, the six-week event will now feature 12 groups of four teams with the top two teams and eight third-place teams advancing to the Round of 32.
Previously the event had 16 groups of three teams.
“The revised formula mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all teams play at least three matches, with balanced rest time between competing teams,” FIFA said.
16 host cities – 11 in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada – now have 24 more matches on top of the 80 they have already played for the inaugural 48-team tournament.
The addition of approximately 1.5 million additional tickets will increase FIFA’s projected record revenue of at least US$11 billion (AU$16 billion) through 2026 from a tournament that will be based on the use of high-revenue NFL stadiums.
The 32-team FIFA World Cup, which was held in Qatar last year, saw a total of 64 matches in 29 days. This time there will be 72 group stage matches only.
The tournament includes 32 teams since the 1998 edition, with each of them playing seven matches. The teams that reach the final in 2026 will now play eight matches.
The original plan for the 2026 edition included a total of 80 matches, but the decision to increase the number of matches to 104 matches was approved by the FIFA Council on Tuesday, at a meeting in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
– with ap
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