World Cup 2026 update: Four-team groups and more games confirmed

World Cup trophy

Details around the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America have more clarity after Tuesday’s FIFA Council Meeting.

The expanded 48-team tournament, co-hosted across the US, Canada and Mexico, will include:

  • 104 games total (up from 64)
  • 12 groups of four teams (three games each, round-robin style)
  • Maximum of eight games (up from seven)
  • Top two teams in each group advance
  • Eight best third-place finishers advance
  • 32-team knockout stage

The format eliminates the proposed three-team groups and keeps the same overarching structure that’s defined the world’s biggest sporting event since its 1998 edition. Additionally, there was fear that three-team groups could lead to collusion on their final matchday.

This new 48-team tournament is expected to last roughly 40 days, starting June 11 and lasting through a July 19 final. That elongates the quadrennial tournament by nearly a week.

It’s unclear how the games will be divided among host cities, plus which locations will host which games. There are 16 host cities spanning the US (11), Canada (2) and Mexico (3). All three Concacaf nations will auto-qualify.

Mexico (1986) and the US (1994) have both previously hosted a World Cup, unlike Canada. The 2026 World Cup is the first held across three nations.