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World Cup 2026 will have four-team groups and 104 games

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FIFA World Cup 2026, to be played in the United States, Canada and Mexico, has had its format changed, announced FIFA Tuesday.

The expanded tournament was originally set to have 48 teams divided among 16 three-team first round groups, with a total of 80 games. The new World Cup format will feature the 48 teams placed in 12 four-team first round groups, with a total of 104 games. FIFA leaders announced the approval of the amended format at a meeting of FIFA’s governing council in Rwanda Tuesday.

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

The change forces organizers to open more dates in the 16 cities chosen to host the World Cup. Victor Montagliani, a FIFA vice president and head of soccer in North America, suggested there will be discussions to determine how additional games would be played and hosted.

The total of 104 World Cup matches will be a significant increase of 40 more games than last year’s tournament in Qatar, which featured 32 teams.

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