FIFA approves new 48-team format for World Cups starting 2026

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DUSHANBE, 11.01.2017. /NIAT Khovar/. The FIFA Council unanimously approved at its session on Tuesday in Zurich a new format of participants in the quadrennial World Cup tournaments increasing the number of the national teams from the current number of 32 up to a total of 48. The new format of participation comes into force staring with the 2026 world football championship and stipulates a total of 16 groups with three national teams in each competing for the World Cup trophy TASS reports citing an official statement of FIFA.

World football's supervisory and strategic body held its third meeting at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 9 and 10 January, and decided on a new tournament format with the 48 national teams split into 16 groups of three, according to an official statement from FIFA.

The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage, the statement said.

The new 48-team competition format has been drawn up in such a way that there is no reduction in the overall number of rest days and a guaranteed maximum of seven matches for the teams reaching the final, while the current 32-day tournament duration is kept, so as not to increase the length of time for which clubs have to release their players.

The initiative to enlarge the participating format was voiced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino a year ago during his election campaign, but he initially proposed the number of 40 national teams.

The next two World Cups, which will be held in 2018 in Russia and in 2022 in Qatar, will be organized in line with the previous FIFA regulations stipulating a participating format of 32 national teams.

Source: National information agency of Tajikistan