FIFA’s approval of an expanded 48-team, 104-match World Cup has received backlash worldwide. The 2026 World Cup, that will be held in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, will last nearly six weeks and will have 12 groups of four teams each, with the top two and eight best third-placed sides advancing to the knockout stages.
FIFA insists that the move came after a thorough review that considered sporting integrity, player welfare, team travel, commercial and sporting attractiveness, and team and fan experience. However, La Liga and the European Leagues have opposed the new format, citing FIFA’s complete disregard for the importance of national championships and the football community.
The global professional football players’ union, FIFPRO, has reiterated its concerns about the demands on players’ mental and physical health.