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Thursday, June 13, 2024

FIFA Announces Four-Team Groups and 24 Additional Games for 2026 World Cup

A new structure for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in North America, has been accepted by FIFA. The new schedule will include 24 more games. As a consequence of the alteration, there will be 104 games played amongst 48 teams over three nations and approximately 40 days. With the new system, each of the teams that finish first, second, third, and fourth will compete in eight games, as opposed to the existing system’s seven-game structure. This will be the first time that there are 48 teams competing in the World Cup, up from the previous record of 32 teams set in 1998.

Several of the smaller member countries are ecstatic about the expansion since it will provide them with more options to qualify for membership and will provide billions of dollars in additional income for the organisation. Nonetheless, a number of spectators and experts are concerned that this change would bring to a decline in the overall quality of the event. Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, has claimed that the 2026 World Cup would create a jackpot that will shatter all previous records. Moreover, FIFA has planned for earnings of $11 billion in the four-year cycle leading up to 2026.

After Infantino took over as president of FIFA in 2016, the first men’s iteration of the World Cup to be awarded was the competition that would take place in North America. Initial conversations had concentrated on the idea of dividing the teams into a total of 16 groups of three members each. Nevertheless, the authorities were afraid that a scenario may arise in which groupings of three teams could be manipulated, and teams would be eliminated after playing just two games.

On Monday evening, Infantino met with the presidents of soccer’s six confederations, and during that meeting, no one had any concerns about the proposed arrangement. During a meeting on Tuesday of FIFA’s 36-member governing council, which normally gives plans that have been agreed upon by the six regional leaders its stamp of approval, the proposal was officially confirmed.

The modification will also need the organisers to clear extra days in the 16 towns that they have picked to host the World Cup. This might prove to be a challenging dance for stadium authorities who are juggling a summer filled with sporting events, concerts, and other events. Victor Montagliani, a vice president of FIFA and the head of soccer in North America, has indicated that there will be discussions to determine how and where the additional games will be played, and he has refused to rule out the possibility of adding a host. Montagliani has also suggested that there will be additional games. Montagliani also stated that the tournament would be lengthened by up to seven days in order to accommodate the additional games, and that the call-up window would almost certainly be shortened in order to ensure that the tournament remains within the window that was mapped out before Tuesday’s change.

At the conference, FIFA also took decisions about other tournaments. With the announcement that FIFA had agreed to a new 32-team World Cup for clubs, which would be a quadrennial event with the first edition taking place in 2025, a new yearly competition for clubs will be developed for the winners of regional championships. This tournament will begin in 2026. The location of the Club World Cup will not be determined by FIFA just yet.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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