FIFA to rethink 2026 format after 2022 success

Doha, Qatar –

Having just hosted the most thrilling group stage ever at a World Cup, captivated by hundreds of millions of fans with its tried-and-tested format, FIFA now faces the prospect of tearing it all up.

Instead, they risked two weeks of tedious games and dead glue when they tried to accommodate 48 teams in the 2026 North American edition, plus the potential for unnecessary controversy.

This means that world football’s governing body is rethinking the format of the next World Cup. Their original plan was to have 16 groups of three teams in the first stage, with two teams in each group to advance to the next stage. Now it looks very good. Dull, but also as a potential pursuit of immorality.

As things stand, there is a risk of many “dead end” matches by 2026 when Canada, Mexico and the United States jointly host the World Cup — for example, if the last group game is played after two teams have already won a game each. between teams, and thus already qualified – or the result of an artifact.

FIFA acknowledged earlier this year that they were concerned about the possibility of an artificial outcome in which two teams could engineer a positive outcome for both sides, which would eliminate a third group of teams from participating in the tournament. “It’s a question that has been raised,” FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani said in March.

The 2026 format sees the 48 teams reduced to 32 after the group stage, before the competition turns into a knockout round.

Other formats are now on the table, with FIFA’s council, the organisation’s all-powerful cabinet, due to decide next year.

According to Wenger, FIFA’s head of global football development, they are 12 groups of four teams each, with the best third-placed team progressing with the top two, or an alternative is to combine the two teams. The World Cup is divided into two separate halves of 24 teams each with six groups of four teams. The winners of each half will meet in the final.

Considering how dramatic and exciting some four-team squads end up in Qatar, that seems like a more viable proposition.

add game

But it would mean a substantial increase in the number of games. The 32-team World Cup in Qatar has a total of 64 games and lasted 29 days. At present, the 2026 final will have 80 games in 32 days.

Four groups, 104 games, need at least one more week.

There, FIFA risked tipping the delicate balance of all the consuming excitement the World Cup proved in Qatar into a drawn-out affair that lost its luster as the quality of entertainment diluted.

More games, however, mean more TV rights revenue, and since the World Cup generates around 90% of Fifa’s revenue, its leaders will be tempted.

FIFA said last month that copyright and sponsorship revenue for the World Cup in Qatar had reached $7.5 billion, $1 billion more than the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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