FIFA officials are expected to vote Tuesday to adjust the format of the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The tournament will make history as the largest World Cup yet, since soccer leaders voted in 2017 to expand the field from 32 teams to 48.

After Tuesday’s vote, it will likely also become the longest World Cup ever held, since FIFA officials are expected to accept a plan that would increase the total number of games played to 104, according to The Athletic.

2026 World Cup format

Initially, the plan for 2026 was to sort the 48 teams into 16 groups of three for the tournament’s group stage. Under that format, the top two teams in each group would advance to the knockout round, and 80 total games would be played, The Athletic reported.

But the more it was discussed, the less popular that format became. Soccer fans, as well as academics, raised concerns that the new system would invite collusion and reduce competition.

“Groups of three have two significant drawbacks: you lose the excitement of the final round of simultaneous group-stage games, and you increase the chance of the two teams in the last game colluding to engineer the result they need,” The Athletic reported.

Amid last year’s World Cup in Qatar, FIFA president Gianni Infantino agreed to revisit the planned format for 2026.

On Tuesday, soccer leaders will vote on the proposal that grew out of that reconsideration: a plan to sort teams into 12 groups of four. By adopting that format, FIFA could maintain the integrity of the group stage, The Athletic reported.

“The eight best third-placed teams (would join) the top two in the knockout rounds. This restores the jeopardy of the final round of group-stage games and reduces the chance of collusion,” the article said.

How many games will be played in the 2026 World Cup?

The main drawback of this shift is that the tournament schedule would need to be adjusted in order to accommodate additional games. If FIFA employs the group-of-four format, the World Cup would consist of 104 total matches.

Soccer leaders will reportedly address the schedule challenge by shortening the “pre-tournament release period from 23 days to 16,” The Athletic reported.

A 16-day preparation period would still be “twice as long as players were given to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar,” the article said.

The 2026 World Cup is currently expected to begin in June 2026, as the Deseret News previously reported.