FIFA Says 2026 World Cup Will Have Record 104 Matches
The 2026 World Cup will have 104 matches instead of the traditional 64 games due to the expanded format with 48 teams taking part, global soccer governing body FIFA said on Tuesday.
The 2026 edition, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, will be the first edition of the quadrennial tournament where 48 teams are taking part.
“The FIFA Council unanimously approved the proposed amendment to the FIFA World Cup 2026 competition format from 16 groups of three to 12 groups of four with the top two and eight best third-placed teams progressing to a round of 32,” FIFA said.
“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.”
The 32-team World Cup in Qatar last year had a total of 64 matches completed in 29 days. The last time Mexico (1986) and the United States (1994) hosted a World Cup, there were only 24 teams.
The tournament has had 32 teams since the 1998 edition, with eight groups of four and the finalists playing seven games each. But teams reaching the summit clash in 2026 will now play eight matches in total.
The original plan for the 2026 edition had a total of 80 matches but the decision to increase the number of games to 104 was approved by FIFA’s council at a meeting on Tuesday.
The new format will also stick to drawing four teams in a group after a proposal for a three-team group was shot down over fears of collusion.
Traditionally the top two teams from each group advance to the last 16 but the 2026 edition will also have the eight best third-placed teams moving into the knockout round of 32.