New format confirmed for World Cup: four-team groups, 24 extra games

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    The new 2026 World Cup format has been officially confirmed by FIFA, the first tournament ready to display 48 teams. The modification of an increase from 32 teams has been in discussion for long but the confirmation has been pending.

    FIFA confirms new format for World Cup of four-team groups and 24 extra matches

    Now it’s officially confirmed that the 2026 World Cup finals will have a format with four teams competing in each group, with the actual idea to have three-team groups now rejected. From 12 four-team groups, the top two and the eight best third-place finishers will move to the round of 32, indicating one extra round of knockout games.

    It signifies, the entire tournament will now have 104 games, way above from the 80 proposed when FIFA decided to stage groups having three teams apiece and a staggering increase on the 64 matches played in the 32-team format that has been existing since 1998. On Tuesday, FIFA even announced a big modification to the men’s international match calendar.

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    Starting in 2026, a 16-day four-match international window will happen either in late September or early October, besides the nine-day two-match windows which will keep going in March, June and November. Another big news Another big news from FIFA on Tuesday was the final announcement of the new 32-team club World Cup, which will take place every four years as of June 2025. The current edition of the FIFA World Cup will go off air after the 2023 edition, and FIFA has confirmed an agreed strategic concept of a yearly club competition as of 2024.

    The competition will have the champions of the premiere club competitions of all confederations and wrap up with a final to be played at a neutral spot, featuring the UEFA Champions League winners and the Intercontinental play-off winner between the other confederations.

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