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2026 FIFA World Cup Preview

By Jeff Stinger

The FIFA World Cup heads west and returns to the United States of America. This time around, the country shares hosting rights with Mexico and Canada. It will be the first time that the event will be held across three countries. However, Mexico will see the final for the third time in history. After a dramatic finish to 2022 Qatar, we gear you up for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the new format changes to the global tournament.

2026 FIFA World Cup Tournament Information and Preview

Three host nations

The United States, Mexico, and Canada make World Cup history as this is the first time that the competition sees three different nations as hosts. America and Mexico have seen their fair share of international soccer action, but this is also the first time that the event will be contested in Canada. The new format means more venues fill the already exciting list. A total of 16 venues are scattered throughout the three host countries.

Here’s a list of the 2026 World Cup Host Cities:

United States

  • Atlanta – Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • Boston – Gillette Stadium
  • Dallas – AT&T Stadium
  • Houston – NRG Stadium
  • Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium
  • Los Angeles – SoFi Stadium
  • Miami – Hard Rock Stadium
  • New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium
  • Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field
  • San Francisco – Levi’s Stadium
  • Seattle – Lumen Field


  • Toronto – BMO Field
  • Vancouver – BC Place


  • Guadalajara – Estadio Akron
  • Mexico City – Estadio Azteca
  • Monterrey – Estadio BBVA

Updated World Cup format

FIFA will ditch the 32-team format and now feature 48 teams at the 2026 World Cup. Gone are the days of groups of four. The next tournament will have 16 groups of three teams each. The top two teams from each group then advance to an even bigger 32-team knockout phase with single elimination.

This updated system introduces a total of 80 games played–16 games more than in Qatar where 64 games were played. The 23rd edition hosts most of its matches in the United States. 60 matches are to be played in the United States, with the remaining 20 games split between Mexico and Canada and for only group-stage matches.

The updated format also means that each finalist can play a maximum of seven matches. This is not an increased number in contrast to previous World Cups since. The rectified group stage configuration means there would be two group stage matches and five knockout matches to be played.

Qualifying and teams

Although the three automatic qualifiers are yet to be finalized, the tradition leads us to believe that all three co-hosts get automatic qualification to the 2026 World Cup. Every tournament in history saw the hosts on the pitch without going through the qualifying phase, including the only other co-hosted tournament in 2002 Japan and South Korea.

Since the pool can accommodate more teams, every continent will receive more spots at the upcoming tournament given the decision to add 16 more teams to the picture. FIFA confirmed the breakdown in 2017, which is as follows:

  • AFC: 8 ⅓
  • CAF: 9 ⅓
  • CONCACAF: 6 ⅓ + ⅓
  • CONMEBOL: 6 ⅓
  • OFC: 1 ⅓
  • UEFA: 16

The six slots marked as ⅓ will make up an intercontinental playoff for the two remaining slots at the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Furthermore, CONCACAF gets an extra ⅓ slot as tournament hosts.

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