After the thrill of the 2026 World Cup host cities being introduced, the following query has been this: how will this all work?
Don’t be concerned, we have got you.
With the event expanded to 48 groups for the primary time in historical past for the 2026 World Cup, the present group stage format and knockout stage format will change. With 11 cities within the US, three in Mexico and two in Canada internet hosting video games, there are many logistics to determine between now and June 2026 when all of it kicks off.
Beneath is all the pieces it is advisable to know on the World Cup format, qualification and the way it will all work.
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2026 World Cup format
Okay, this is the way it will all work as the boys’s World Cup shifts from being a 32-team event to a 48-team competitors.
The 48 certified groups will likely be break up into 16 teams of three
Every crew will play two group stage video games (down one from three)
The first- and 2nd-place finishers in every group to the spherical of 32
An additional knockout spherical, the Spherical of 32, will likely be created
The spherical knockout will then proceed from the Spherical of 16 a la earlier World Cups
2026 World Cup qualification
It’s broadly anticipated that as host nations the USA, Canada and Mexico will all routinely qualify for the 2026 World Cup. However that has not been confirmed.
FIFA have confirmed how the brand new qualification course of will work, as the next system was voted in at their 67th FIFA congress:
UEFA = 16 groups will qualify
CAF = 9.5 (.5 represents one playoff crew)
AFC = 8.5
CONMBEOL = 6.5
CONCACAF = 6.5
OFC = 1.5
A playoff event involving six groups will likely be held within the US, Mexico and Canada to determine the ultimate two groups that attain the World Cup. The 2 playoff groups with the best FIFA world rankings will likely be seeded, whereas the opposite 4 will play a semifinal spherical to determine who reaches the ultimate to play the 2 seeded groups.
One playoff crew will come from every of the confederations (besides UEFA) and there will likely be an additional crew from the CONCACAF area to make up the six groups.
How will FIFA base the group stage, knockout rounds?
That is one thing that will likely be actually intriguing within the years to return as FIFA plan out the logistics of the place to carry group stage video games, the knockout rounds and the place nationwide groups will likely be based mostly.
We all know one factor: FIFA will maintain 80 video games on the event with 60 video games within the USA, 10 in Mexico and 10 in Canada. That has already been confirmed.
All through all of my chats with these concerned within the host metropolis bidding course of lately one factor has stood out: FIFA desires regional teams of cities so video games could be hosted in numerous cities however with little or no journey for followers and groups.
With that in thoughts, placing a World Cup group in paired cities would work very effectively after which maintaining these groups in a sure area of the US, Mexico and Canada for the primary few rounds of knockouts would additionally make sense.
For instance: Teams A and B will likely be based mostly on the West Coast for the group stage, plus Spherical of 32 and Spherical of 16, whereas Teams C and D will likely be based mostly on the East Coast for the group stage, plus Spherical of 32 and Spherical of 16, and so forth and so forth.
As for the way that can all work, I’ve had a go at predicting which cities could possibly be paired collectively to host video games in 2026:
Vancouver + Seattle
San Francisco + LA
Mexico Metropolis + Guadalajara
Monterrey + Houston
Kansas Metropolis + Dallas
Atlanta + Miami
Boston + Toronto
Philadelphia + New York
Which metropolis will host the 2026 World Cup remaining?
It looks like three areas throughout the USA are the frontrunners: Los Angeles, Dallas and New York Metropolis / NJ.
The latter looks like the favourite as issues stand, particularly as FIFA selected NYC to unveil the 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup.
Mexico Metropolis’s Azteca Stadium has hosted two World Cup finals previously and regardless of its iconic standing in world soccer, count on the ultimate to be held within the USA.