Once the most compact World Cup in history reaches its climax on Sunday in Qatar, the baton will pass to the United States, Mexico and Canada, co-hosts in 2026, in what will be a big global soccer spectacle, with more games and travel, and much more beer.
After the controversial award of the 2022 organization to Qatar, a country smaller than the state of Connecticut, FIFA, soccer’s governing body, is going all out in 2026, increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48, with matches in three nations and as many time zones.
The last time Mexico (1986) and the United States (1994) hosted a World Cup there were 24 teams. But in the next championship, with 16 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico, the logistics will be mind-boggling, even before adding the teams’ 48 training bases.
The 2026 tournament will return to its traditional summer period, after being played in November and December in Qatar to avoid the scorching temperatures of June and July. Most of the competition will be played in the United States, where 11 cities, from New York to Los Angeles, will host 60 of the 80 matches, including the quarterfinals, semifinals and final.
Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey will host Mexico, while Toronto and Vancouver will host the Canadian ones.
While the Qatar World Cup has been overshadowed at times by the Persian Gulf country’s treatment of migrant labour, its approach to LGBT+ or women’s rights, and other restrictive social laws, FIFA President Gianni Infantino was full of praise for the action on the pitch and described the group stage as the best of the world. the story.
SURPRISES IN AFRICA AND ASIA
The familiar eight-group four-team format, which has captivated hundreds of millions of fans, could be altered in 2026 as FIFA considers establishing 16 groups of three teams in the first phase.
More teams will bring more surprises, such as Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina in their group stage debut, says Jürgen Klinsmann, who won a World Cup with Germany and later coached the U.S. men’s team.
“We are going to see more surprises coming from Africa and Asia at the (2026) tournament,” Klinsmann, head of FIFA’s technical group, told reporters in Qatar.
The World Cup in Qatar, with 32 teams, has been composed of a total of 64 games, which were carried out in 29 days, and, for now, the final phase of 2026 would have 80 matches in 32 days.