FIFA announces new expanded format for 2026 World Cup
FIFA have approved the international match calendar, including the new format of the 32-team 2026 World Cup, the date of the Final and an expanded Club World Cup every four years.
The FIFA Council came together today and unanimously passed several big changes to the international calendar over the period 2025-2030.
Much to the chagrin of clubs, this means an extra 16-day, four-match window in late September and early October to be introduced from 2026.
That is much longer than the current two nine-day, two-match windows in September and October 2025.
The 2026 World Cup will now officially be made up of 32 teams, with 12 groups of four in the opening phase.
The top two and eight best third-placed sides will then progress to the Round of 32.
“The revised format mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all the teams play a minimum of three matches, while providing balanced rest time between competing teams.”
FIFA also confirmed that the current version of the FIFA Club World Cup will be discontinued after 2023, becoming a new yearly club competition from next year.
It will feature the champions of the premier club competitions of all federations and conclude with a final to be played at a neutral venue, between the winner of the Champions League and the winner of intercontinental play-offs between the other confederations.
However, from 2025 it is an expanded Club World Cup involving 32 teams, bringing in champions for the previous four seasons and any additional teams determined by ranking of that period.