FIFA is reportedly set to confirm a revised format for the 2026 World Cup that will see the competition extended to 104 games staged across 39 days.
World football’s governing body will hold a council meeting in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Tuesday, with FIFA’s annual congress taking place later this week.
According to The Athletic, it has been determined that scheduling changes need to be made for a flagship event that will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Said tournament will already see 48 teams involved for the first time, but further tinkering is being made to the format.
It was originally suggested that there would be 16 groups of three, with the top two in each section progressing to the round of 32. That approach would have delivered 80 fixtures, up from 64.
Three-team groups lose the excitement of simultaneous games in the final round of matches, though, and have also created controversy in the past—most notably at the 1982 World Cup—as sides can collaborate to ensure that they both progress to the knockout stages.
With that in mind, FIFA is now favoring 12 groups of four, with the eight best third-placed teams joining the top two in the final 32.
The extra week required to fit more games in will be found by cutting pre-tournament release periods from 23 days to 16 days, which is still twice as much time as players and teams were given ahead of Qatar 2022.
It is yet to be revealed what the revised structure will mean for the allocation split between host nations, with the U.S. initially down for 60 matches while Canada and Mexico were due to stage 10 apiece.