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“World Cup 2026: 48 Teams, 104 Games, New Group Format and 3 Host Countries”

The Qatar World Cup of 2022 will go down in history as the most controversial tournament in FIFA’s history. The event started in late November and ended on December 18, with Argentina being crowned champions. Due to the hot weather in the Gulf nation during the summer months, the tournament forced leagues around the world to reshape their seasons and caused plenty of headaches. While the football was brilliant, countries around the globe will be eager to return to some sort of normality moving forward.

The World Cup is held every four years, being staged on a different continent each time. After Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018, the famous competition headed to the Persian Gulf and will be on the move again for the next edition with a host of major changes coming up once more.

Like the Qatar tournament, the 2026 World Cup will also break new ground for FIFA. That’s because it will be held across three countries – United States, Canada, and Mexico. The trio bid was voted ahead of the proposal from Morocco. The 2002 tournament was held in South Korea and Japan, but the World Cup has never had three host nations before – all of whom will automatically qualify. There will be 16 host cities, 11 from the USA, two in Canada, and three in Mexico. The stadiums being used include the 87,523-capacity Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, New York’s MetLife Stadium, and Vancouver’s BC Place. Several NFL venues will be used to provide huge crowds with 12 of the 16 stadia having capacities over 64,000.

The 2026 World Cup will also be different as it will be the first to include 48 teams, up from 32. The new, expanded format has been green-lit by the FIFA Council and it will feature a new-look of 12 groups of four. Winners and runners-up in each of those 12 four-team groups will advance to a new round of 32, where they will be joined by the eight best third-placed teams. It would also add up to a total of 104 matches, up from 64 in Qatar.

The dates for the 2026 World Cup have not been confirmed yet either. But it has been confirmed the expanded tournament will run over 39 days – an extra week compared to the current format. And it’s currently expected to get underway on Thursday, June 11, 2026, and run until the final on Sunday, July 19, 2026. FIFA is also eager to keep the tournament’s ‘footprint’ to 57 days meaning there would be 16 days of preparation and then 39 days of competition. That would mean an earlier finish to the European domestic season so it remains to be seen how FIFA will slot everything in.

The Qatar World Cup was a tournament that had its fair share of controversies. From allegations of bribery during the bidding process to concerns about human rights violations in Qatar, there were many issues that surrounded the event. However, despite all of these problems, the tournament was still able to produce some fantastic football.

The final between Argentina and Germany was a tense affair that saw both teams give it their all. In the end, it was Lionel Messi who scored the winning goal for Argentina, securing their first World Cup victory since 1986. It was a moment of pure joy for Messi and his teammates, who had worked so hard to achieve their goal.

Overall, the Qatar World Cup was a tournament that will be remembered for many years to come. While it had its fair share of controversies, it was still able to produce some fantastic football that captivated fans around the world. With the next World Cup set to take place across three countries and featuring an expanded format with 48 teams, there is sure to be plenty more excitement to come in the world of football.

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