• Thu. Jun 8th, 2023

For 29 days, 64 of the highest-caliber international football matches were played during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The biggest tournament in international football certainly brought out some of the most entertaining matchups and some of the most bizarre upsets the sporting world has ever seen. But FIFA wants to make the grandest stage even more grand with their plans for the next iteration of the tournament in 2026.

According to Sky Sports, they will expand the number of teams that will participate in the World Cup from 32 to 48; this also means that the total number of matches will increase from 64 to 104. (To put things in perspective, the inaugural World Cup in 1930 involved only 13 participating nations for a grand total of 18 matches played.) The FIFA governing council should finalize these changes during the 73rd Congress meeting, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda from March 13 to 17, 2023.

FIFA has a few justifications for introducing this change. First and foremost, increasing the number of participating nations will help them reach their target of more than £9 billion in revenue. Secondly, the increase to 48 participating teams should solve format issues that could arise with the 2026 World Cup being held in three different North American nations – United States, Canada and Mexico.

This should also have the effect of introducing more variance to the competition – a welcome element to fans of the World Cup’s free-for-all nature. In particular, Italy, which ranks eighth in the men’s FIFA rankings, missed out on the competition entirely due to a poor run of form at an inopportune time. In addition, other prestigious footballing nations, such as Colombia, Egypt, Chile, and Sweden, should also have a greater chance of qualifying.

As a result of this change, there will now be 12 groups of four in 2026 instead of the eight groups of four format that FIFA has used for the World Cup since 1998.

The two teams to top their respective groups will still progress to the next round, in addition to eight of the best third-place teams. Therefore, there will now be five knockout matches instead of the usual four, which introduces another layer of difficulty to an already-difficult road to winning the most-coveted trophy in world football.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *