FIFA is reportedly set to announce the official 2026 World Cup format. The governing body of the sport appears ready to expand the total amount of games at the tournament to 104. This would also extend the total length of the competition from 29 to 39 days.

According to a report by The Athletic, FIFA is holding a meeting on Tuesday to make the final approval on the adjustments. There isn’t expected to be much resistance on making the changes.

The 2026 World Cup was already expanding to 48 teams, but other tweaks to the schedule needed to be ironed out. FIFA originally wanted the competition to consist of 16 groups of three. This style would have seen the top two teams from each group advance to a 32-team knockout. However, the format will contain traditional groups of four.

World Cup 2026 format means eight third-place teams advance

There will be 12 groups of four teams. After the usual round-robin group stage, the top two teams automatically advance, like in years prior. However, the new addition is that the eight best third-place teams also advance. This is the same idea the European Championships adopted in 2016, just on a smaller scale.

FIFA officials apparently had a change of heart on the format after the success of the 2022 World Cup. The final group stage matches in Qatar were filled with drama and excitement. Groups of three teams would potentially make the opening stages less meaningful and thrilling.

Keeping the groups of four nations also takes out the possibility of situations like the ‘Disgrace of Gijon.’ During the 1982 World Cup in Spain, West Germany and Austria effectively agreed on a scoreline that would benefit both teams. The Germans won the match 1-0 and both nations qualified for the next round.

Allocation of host matches between the trio of North American countries will also have to be reset. Under the previous agreement, the United States was supposed to host 60 games, with Canada and Mexico each hosting 10 matches. However, with more fixtures added to the schedule, the US could now host 78 total World Cup games.