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Expanding the beautiful game: 2026 World Cup

By Ignacio Chazarreta

Photo by My Profit Tutor on Unsplash

It seems just yesterday we were waking up early, watching games all day, and waiting to see who would be crowned World Champion. The 2022 World Cup, which was around this time last year, came to a historic end; however, the next World Cup is not so far away. With many major changes coming to the format, location and tournament overall, it’s going to be very exciting.

FIFA announced the 2026 World Cup will be taking place from early June to late July, which will bring us back to the original World Cup dates. As many recently recall the World Cup took place around December due to the very hot weather in Qatar during the summer months that made it unplayable. With the dates back to normal it may seem as if the World Cup is closer than we think.

With dates already decided, FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) has already decided the country to host the World Cup, or rather countries. In 2002 for the first time in history, we saw more than one nation host the World Cup, with the two nations, Korea and Japan hosting it. However, this time around we will see three nations, U.S.A, Mexico and Canada host the tournament.

The tournament will be hosted across 16 cities, two from Canada, three from Mexico, and 11 in the U.S.A. The stadiums will also be magnificent from Mexico's iconic “Estadio Azteca”, to the AT&T stadium in Dallas, Texas which can hold 100,000+ fans according to their site.

Many fans have also voiced their opinion asking just how players will be able to travel over three countries to play matches, along with why so many locations and why three countries. This is all because 48 teams will be competing at this World Cup.

In previous years, the World Cup has usually been limited to 32 teams, but FIFA’s change has many fans questioning their decision, however, FIFA may be making the right choice.

Firstly, the main struggle for many countries is simply qualifying for the World Cup but with more teams, it will make this much easier, and won’t create any problems like top teams, like Italy failing to qualify. Secondly, the World Cup will almost double in matches as Dale Johnson at ESPN stated that we would be seeing an increase to 104 matches, which is almost double the last World Cup. Finally, profits will soar through the roof FIFA president Gianni Infantino said, “Increasing the size of teams which can participate will increase the investment in football development.

Mayor of Miami-Dade County Daniella Levine Cava, center, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, back left, react along with Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris, right, and gathered soccer fans to Miami being selected as one of the cities for the FIFA 2026 World Cup venue during a watch party at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus in Coral Gables, Florida, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/TNS)

However many fans are completely against this new format for various reasons. The group stage of the World Cup will be too long and won’t even allow most fans to watch all the games due to the sheer amount, not to mention that with FIFA making the groups only 3 teams, with 2 qualifying, it will almost be a joke to watch the groups. Then the other question fans ask themselves is when will it stop from 24 to 32 to 48 teams? At this point, many fans think that the sky is the limit.

Now setting aside these problems the World Cup is bound to be exciting, even if you like the format or not. With new changes to the World Cup, we will see what is to come, which we can only know over time. With the World Cup finally coming back to life we once again ask ourselves, who will be the World Champion.

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