FIFA is planning to initiate penalty shootouts to make a decision if the teams deserve a bonus, in case the group stage games end with a draw. They’re considering giving the plan colors in the next World Cup, 2026.
FIFA considering including penalty shootouts in group-stage games in the 2026 World Cup
The next men’s Football World Cup is taking place jointly in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Unsimilar to this year’s Qatar World Cup of 32 teams with eight groups of four, there will be 48 teams included with sixteen groups of three.
The top teams of each group will advance to the round of 32 knockout stages, one more round from the present format. Initially, the FIFA council voted unanimously for three-team groups. However, the possibility of four-team groups is again coming back to talks behind the scenes.
More games to be played?
Going with that format would mean more games and possibly a straightforward group stage, where the two higher-ranked squads enter the knockouts much more comprehensively. In such a case, there will be lesser risks of collusion.
In the case of three-team groups, the penalty shootout will be a good option to determine which team claims a bonus in case the match ends in a tie.
Back in January 2017, Marco van Basten, FIFA’s chief officer for technical development, said,
“Shootouts could indeed be an option for tournaments with groups of three in which you play against two opponents. It can get pretty tight. If one team for instance draws one match 0-0 and wins the other 1-0, there’s a high risk that all three teams are level on points and goals in the end.”
Time will reveal what FIFA will finally go for and if it will be penalty shootouts in the group stages.
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