FIFA is ready to announce a new format for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The new proposals are aimed at expanding the World Cup to 104 games, which will take place over 39 days.
According to David Ornstein and Matt Slater of The Athletic, the decision will be made at a FIFA Council meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
Ornstein and Slater report that “the new format provides for 12 groups of four, with the top eight third-place teams joining the top two in the playoffs. This restores the danger of the final round of group stage games and reduces the likelihood of collusion.
“An additional week will be found by reducing the pre—tournament vacation by a week from 23 days – slightly less than at previous summer tournaments, but twice as much as the players were given to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar.
“Although the official date of the opening match has not yet been announced, FIFA intends to keep the “footprint” of the tournament up to 57 days, with 39 days of competition.”
Maeta Molango, CEO of the Professional Football Association, expressed concern about the increase in the number of games and their impact on players.
Molango called on decision makers to reset the entire football calendar.
“The expanded format of the World Cup announced for 2026 means that more games are being driven into the already overloaded schedule again.”
Molango’s concerns are shared by Manchester United defender Raphael Varane.
When Varane announced his retirement from international football, he explained his decision by difficulties with maintaining form due to too many matches that players have to play during the season.
Varan believed that it was impossible to play for his club and country without getting bogged down as a result of fatigue and fatigue.
Fans should also be forgiven for being skeptical of the inevitable format.
Take, for example, the case of United: this season, the Red Devils fought on all fronts. With the League Cup already secured, United are still involved in the FA Cup, Premier League and League Cup.
Are increased games really necessary? Do they bring any benefit to the players who are already struggling to upgrade and be in the best shape for the next game?