FIFA Council today announced that the format of World Cup, world’s biggest soccer competition, will change. The new format, the first change to the World Cup since 1998, will expand the number of participating countries from 32 to 48, as of the 2026 edition.
Currently, countries compete in one of eight groups of four teams followed by four knockout rounds. The new tournament format with the 48 national teams split into 16 groups of three. The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage.
The new 48-team competition format has been drawn up in such a way that there is no reduction in the overall number of rest days and a guaranteed maximum of seven matches for the teams reaching the final, while the current 32-day tournament duration is kept, so as not to increase the length of time for which clubs have to release their players.