What an expanded 104-match 2026 World Cup format means for Canada

The men’s World Cup coming to Canada for the first time won’t be the only history made at the 2026 tournament. FIFA on Tuesday approved an expanded World Cup format that will include an unprecedented 104 matches.

The 2026 tournament will already include a record 48 nations. Canada, the United States and Mexico are the first three teams guaranteed to be among that contingent, given berths as the tournament’s co-hosts.

Canada had previously been allotted 10 matches to host between Vancouver’s BC Place and Toronto’s BMO Field. While no official word has been given as to how the additional games will be divided, the expectation is that this will mean more matches played in Canada.

Under the previously proposed format, these teams would have been divided into 16 groups of three. However, reducing the risk of collusion and after an incredibly entertaining 2022 World Cup Group Stage FIFA has decided the amend that configuration.

Instead, under the new format teams will be split into 12 groups of four. The top two teams from each group will advance, as well as the eight best third-place teams. The remaining teams will then compete in a single knockout format, starting with a round of 32 until the final.

FIFA also announced that the 2026 World Cup final will take place on Sunday, July 19, 2026.