The 2026 World Cup could potentially see format changes after witnessing a thrilling group stage in Qatar 2022. The expansion of the tournament to 48 teams competing has allowed for more diverse and competitive groups, with several surprise results throughout the opening round.
FIFA may revise the format for future tournaments, with an expanded knockout stage among the possible changes. This would add excitement and suspense to the later stages of the competition and provide opportunities for underdog sides to make deep runs into the tournament.
This year’s tournament, which will be played in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. According to Reuters’s reporting, a decision is expected to be made next year, but “alternatives format” are now being considered.
A GLOBAL VIEW:
The 16 groups of three teams for the 2026 FIFA World Cup were initially supposed to see the top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage. One concern is that the format would produce too many dead rubbers, turning off fans. For similar reasons, FIFA is worried that teams would try to rig games in their favor.
Two additional alternatives are being discussed. One possibility is to divide the teams into 12 sets of 4, and the top two teams and the best third-place team would advance.
It’s also possible to divide the competition into two halves. Winners of the six groups of four teams in each half would face off in the championship game.