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FIFA World Cup 2026 will have record 104 matches!

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FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Final – Argentina v France – Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar – December 18, 2022 Argentina’s Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup trophy alongside teammates as they celebrate winning the World Cup REUTERS/Carl Recine

he 2026 World Cup will have 104 matches instead of the traditional 64 games due to the expanded format with 48 teams taking part, global soccer governing body FIFA said on Tuesday ahead of its Congress in Kigali, Rwanda.

The 2026 edition, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, will be the first edition of the quadrennial tournament where 48 teams are taking part. The final will be held on July 19.

The new format will also stick to drawing four teams in a group after a proposal for a three-team group was shot down over fears of collusion. However, the number of groups will increase from eight to 12.

The original plan for the 2026 edition had a total of 80 matches but the decision to increase the number of games to 104 was approved by FIFA’s council at a meeting on Tuesday.

Traditionally the top two teams from each group advance to the last 16 but the 2026 edition will also have the eight best third-placed teams moving into the knockout round of 32.

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“The FIFA Council unanimously approved the proposed amendment to the FIFA World Cup 2026 competition format” FIFA said.

“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.”

The 32-team World Cup in Qatar last year had a total of 64 matches completed in 29 days. The last time Mexico (1986) and the United States (1994) hosted a World Cup, there were only 24 teams.

The tournament has had 32 teams since the 1998 edition, with eight groups of four and the finalists playing seven games each. But teams reaching the summit clash in 2026 will now play eight matches in total.

CLUB COMPETITION

FIFA said a 32-team Club World Cup will be played every four years from June 2025, confirming the announcement made by its president Gianni Infantino in Qatar last year.

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Confederation champions from 2021-2024 will be eligible to play in the Club World Cup, which means Chelsea and Real Madrid have already qualified.

Should either club win the Champions League again, a club ranking calculation based on sporting criteria will be used to determine which other team will qualify.

The current version of the FIFA Club World Cup — an annual competition with seven teams — will be discontinued after 2023, with a new yearly club competition approved from 2024.

“This competition will feature the champions of the premier club competitions of all confederations and conclude with a final to be played at a neutral venue, between the winner of the UEFA Champions League and the winner of intercontinental play-offs between the other confederations,” FIFA said.

FIFA said clubs will have to release players for the World Cup from May 25, 2026 unless they are in a major final — such as the Champions League showpiece — for which clubs will have until May 30 to allow players to join their national teams.

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“With 56 days, the total combined number of rest, release and tournament days remain identical to the 2010, 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup editions,” FIFA added.

A newly structured international calendar was also approved with nine-day windows in March and June for two games each, a 16-day window for four matches in September-October followed by another nine-day two-match window in November.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

CAF looking for hosts for CAF Awards, Women Champions League and youth tournaments

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964a86a6-motsepe.jpg

After eventually fixing dates for Africa Cup of Nations 2025 and the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, the Confederation of African Football still have major hurdles to scale.

The confederation is looking for hosts for the CAF Women’s Champions League, the U-17 and U-20 AFCON as well as the CAF Awards 2024. Morocco were the hosts for the last editions of the CAF Awards and Women’s Champions League. The confederation which opened the bids hopes to get possible responses by the time of the 46th CAF Ordinary General Assembly in Kinshasa, DR Congo on Thursday 10 October 2024.

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Governing Bodies

CAF Executive Committee to meet on Friday

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CAF President Motsepe Fails To Confirm Dates For 2025 AFCON -

Plunged with myriad of issues especially concerning regular fixtures of the Africa Cup of Nations 2025 as well as the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 2024 both of which are to be held in Morocco, the  Confédération Africaine de Football CAF Executive Committee  will hold a virtual meeting on Friday.

It is expected that the congested fixtures occasioned by the women’s football event of the Paris 2024 Olympics as well as the enlarged FIFA Club World Cup 2025 will be discussed.

Till now,neither hosts nor period has been allocated for the Women’s Club Champions League which is supposed to be an annual event.

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Governing Bodies

Samuel Eto’o apologises and reinstates Cameroon coach Brys

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Former Cameroonian star forward and now football federation president Samuel Eto’o apologised Thursday to national team coach Marc Brys, with whom he had been involved in a heated exchange this week.

The ex-Barcelona striker also confirmed Brys would remain in his position after it was announced the Belgian was to be replaced as head coach of Cameroon on Wednesday.

“I apologise because during our first unfortunate meeting, there was a lot of emotion… but the Cameroonian people are more important than us, and it is for them that we must work,” said Eto’o at a press conference.

Eto’o was referring to an incident captured on video during his first meeting with Brys, which was widely shared on social media Tuesday.

The pair were seen to engage in a heated argument, before Brys left abruptly.

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“Your mission is not an easy one, despite your qualities and experience, but you should know that you will have our support,” added the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner.

Brys was appointed to the role in April by Cameroon’s sport ministry, much to the astonishment of the country’s football federation (Fecafoot) and its president Eto’o wrote to the ministry to denounce its “illegal” appointment of the 62-year-old.

Fecafoot said it regretted not being involved “closely, nor remotely” in the selection process for the new coach and his staff.

Belgian Brys will now oversee Cameroon’s next two crucial matches in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, against Cape Verde on June 8 and Angola three days later.

-AFP

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