FIFA President Gianni Infantino Oversees New World Cup Format Ahead of Unopposed Re-election

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The FIFA World Cup 2026 will have a new format; 48 teams, and 104 fixtures, in over likely 39 days. This sees four-team groups in North America.


The next FIFA World Cup will be hosted between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. When FIFA conducts its annual congress in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Thursday, Gianni Infantino is expected to be voted in for a third four-year term as the organization’s head. Infantino has had a controversial tenure as Head of FIFA, with the major highlight being his defense of Qatar, the host nation of the recent men’s World Cup whose treatment of migrant workers, women, and the LGBTQ community came under scrutiny.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is also expected to be re-elected on Thursday in Kigali, Rwanda during FIFA’s annual congress. However, the Norwegian Football Association has submitted a proposal to debate “FIFA’s responsibility to remedy human rights abuses” with respect to the Qatar World Cup and future competitions, so Infantino will not have an easy time in Kigali.

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FIFA has made significant changes to the football transfer system over the past four years, including the licensing of agents and a cap on their commissions. This as well as a 48-team World Cup will lead to even greater revenues, with FIFA announcing in December a projected income of $11 billion up to 2026, compared to $7.5 billion in the cycle ending in 2022.

Infantino has already laid the groundwork for his stay until 2031 by stating that his first three years in office did not constitute a full term, despite the fact that the Zurich-based organization’s laws now only allow for a president to serve a maximum of three four-year terms.

16 groups of three teams were originally planned, with the top two moving on to a knockout tournament featuring 32 teams. In contrast to the 64-game model FIFA has used since 1998, that format would have included 80 games.

But, groups of three have two major disadvantages: you lose the thrill of the last round of concurrent group-stage matches, and you raise the possibility of the two teams in the final game working together to produce the outcome they require.

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