FIFA decided to distribute the 48 teams participating in the 2026 World Cup in America, Mexico and Canada into 12 groups of four teams each, instead of distributing the teams into 16 groups of three teams each, bringing the total number of matches. The tournament is 104 matches.
Under the new system, the first and second-placed teams in each group, in addition to the eight best third-placed teams, will qualify for the round of 32.
As a result of this change, the tournament will witness the presence of 24 additional matches than was planned, as the winning team will have played 8 matches instead of seven, as was happening in previous tournaments.
The 2026 edition will be the first tournament to be held with the participation of 48 teams, as the 2022 edition in Qatar featured 32 teams and 64 matches.
FIFA stated that the decision was made based on a comprehensive review that took into account sporting integrity, player welfare, team travel, commercial and sporting attractions, as well as the experience of teams and fans, and that the new system mitigate the risk of collusion and ensure that all teams will play at least three matches, with Provide adequate rest time between competing teams.
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