FIFA have confirmed a new format for the 2026 World Cup, extending the tournament to 104 games over likely 39 days. The decision was approved in March at a meeting of the FIFA Council in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
FIFA announced the men’s World Cup would be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States in 2026. As per the latest developments, 16 host cities were announced as the first-ever 48-team tournament that will not only be the biggest World Cup edition but also the longest.
The glitz and glamour tournament due to take place in North America will expand from 32 to 48 teams, with 12 groups consisting of four nations each—a revision from the original proposed format of 16 groups of three.
Below is the complete list of cities selected as host venues for the World Cup 2026 in Canada, Mexico and the USA, including format and qualification.
16 venues selected as host cities for the World Cup 2026
New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium
Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field
San Francisco – Levi’s Stadium
Seattle – Lumen Field
Atlanta – Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Boston – Gillette Stadium
Dallas – AT&T Stadium
Houston – NRG Stadium
Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium
Los Angeles – SoFi Stadium
Miami – Hard Rock Stadium
Toronto – BMO Field
Vancouver – BC Place
Guadalajara – Estadio Akron
Mexico City – Estadio Azteca
Monterrey – Estadio BBVA
World Cup 2026 format and qualification
Now that we have full information regarding the host cities, stadiums and venues for the World Cup 2026, let us take a peep at the mega tournament’s format and qualification.
First and foremost, as host nations, Canada, Mexico and the United States will all automatically qualify for the World Cup 2026 finals. The latest edition of the World Cup will be the first tournament featuring 48 teams and the top two nations in each group will advance to the knockout round along with the eight best third-placed sides. Thus, the finalists and the nations finishing third and fourth will play a total of eight games instead of the present seven.
Under the new format announced by FIFA, the total number of games played will significantly improve from 64 to 104. This has raised concerns about player welfare, but the revised format will guarantee that nearly every game at the World Cup 2026 is hugely competitive and momentous.
FIFA stated clubs will have to release players for the World Cup in North America from May 25, 2026, unless they are in a major final – such as the Champions League final – for which clubs will have up until May 30 to allow players to team up with their respective national teams.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.