FIFA World Cup 2026 Will Feature 48 Teams & 104 Matches Spread Over 39 Days

48-Team FIFA World Cup Format To Take Effect In 2026 Edition Of Tournament

FIFA has approved an extended format of the World Cup which will take effect from the next edition of the tournament, slated to take place in 2026.

The new tournament format will see 104 matches, up from the current 64. There will also be 48 participating teams — 50% more than the current 32.

Source: FIFA World Cup on Facebook

Taking into consideration the additional matches, the quadrennial football tournament will last over a slightly longer period of 39 days.

FIFA approves of new World Cup format featuring more teams & matches

In a press release on Tuesday (14 Mar), the international football association announced that the FIFA Council had “unanimously agreed” to the proposed amendments to the World Cup 2026 competition format.

Source: FIFA

While there were no changes to the number of participating teams in the proposition, there were minor tweaks to the tournament format.

The initial proposed format included:

  • 16 groups of three
  • top two from each Group to progress to Round of 32

Instead of the above, the newly-approved format will see 12 groups of four, with the top two and eight “best third-placed teams” making it to the Round of 32.

FIFA said that the revised format will reduce the “risk of collusion” and ensure all teams play a minimum of three matches.

Currently, there are 32 participating teams in the World Cup. These teams are split into eight groups of four, of which the top two qualify for the elimination rounds.

The 2026 World Cup will take place over 39 days after taking into account the approved format.

Clubs have to release players 56 days before next World Cup

FIFA also confirmed that the Finals of World Cup 2026 — jointly hosted by the US, Canada, and Mexico – will be played on 19 Jul 2026.

The football body additionally stated that clubs will have to release players for the 2026 World Cup from 25 May. This will give players 56 rest, release, and tournament days.

Exceptions, however, may be granted for finals of “confederation club competitions” — such as the UEFA Champions League — in which clubs will have up till 30 May 2026 to release their players.

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at

Featured image adapted from FIFA World Cup on Facebook

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.

  • More From Author