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FIFA WC 2026: FIFA Makes U-turn To Four-team Groups.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will have the normal four-team groups instead of the initial 16 groups of three teams each.

The football World governing body announced in a statement that the World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico will see each team play a minimum of three matches.

“The revised format mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all the teams play a minimum of three matches while providing rest time between competing teams”, FIFA said in a statement.


Initially, FIFA had planned a 16-group tournament with three teams each but the exciting moments of the just-ended 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar prompted Gianni Infantino to reverse this decision.

The BBC reported that the new format will have 12 groups of four teams each – with the two top teams of each group to qualify for the knockout phase, while eight of the best third-placed teams in the group stage will qualify for the round of 32.

Consequently, the 80 matches programmed for the 16-group tournament – there will be a total of 104 games to be played in 39 days instead of the normal 30 days span – with the Champions to play a maximum of eight matches instead of the normal seven matches.

FIFA also approved a men’s match calendar from 2025 to 2030 and that “based on the new calendar, the FIFA World Cup 2026 final will be played on Sunday 19 July 2026”

It added that “mandatory” for which clubs must release players for the tournament will start “on 25 May 2026, following the last official club match on 24 May 2026 and ” exemptions may apply to the final matches of Confederation club competitions until 30 May 2026 subject to FIFA approval.



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