Report: FIFA set to unveil 104-match schedule for 2026 World Cup

FIFA is ready to unveil a new format for the 2026 World Cup, expanding the tournament to 104 games, according to a report Tuesday in The Athletic.

The Athletic report also says FIFA will approve the change on Tuesday in Rwanda, where members have gathered for the annual congress.

If the change goes through, the 2026 World Cup, which is being hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico and was previously expanded to feature 48 teams, will be billed as the largest and the longest, potentially covering as many as 39 days.

The original idea when the tournament was expanded to 48 teams was to have 16 groups of three, with the top two advancing into a 32-team knockout competition. However, this format loses the drama of simultaneous games on the final match day for each group and creates an opportunity for collusion by the teams playing in each group’s last game. For those reasons, the schedule proposal now includes 12 groups of four with the top two teams in each group and the eight best third-place teams advancing to the knockout round.

It’s unclear if the schedule proposal will impact the allotment of games between the three hosts. Canada is set to host games in Toronto and Vancouver.

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