by Steve Keating
TORONTO, Dec 16 (Reuters) – After the most compact World Cup in history reached its climax on Sunday in Qatar, the United States, Mexico and Canada will co-host in 2026 what will be a spectacle world soccer at large. , with more matches and tours, and a lot more beer.
Following the controversial award of 2022 organization to Qatar, a country smaller than the state of Connecticut, soccer’s governing body FIFA is pulling out in 2026, increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48 with matches in three countries and multiple regions.
The last times Mexico (1986) and the United States (1994) hosted the World Cup, there were 24 teams. But at the upcoming championships, with 16 cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico adding 48 team training bases, logistics will already be mind boggling.
The 2026 tournament will return to its traditional summer period, after being held in November and December in Qatar to avoid the scorching temperatures of June and July. Most of the competition will take place in the United States, where 11 cities, from New York to Los Angeles, will host 60 of the 80 matches, including quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey will be Mexican locations, while Toronto and Vancouver will be Canadian.
Although the World Cup in Qatar has at times focused on Gulf countries’ treatment of migrant workers, LGBT+ or women’s rights and other restrictive social laws, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was full of praise for the action on the pitch, the group Describing the episode as his best till date.
Wonders in Africa and Asia
The familiar format of eight groups of four teams that has captivated millions of fans could be disrupted in 2026 as FIFA is studying the possibility of setting up 16 groups of three teams in the first phase.
More teams will bring more surprises, says Jürgen Klinsmann, who won the World Cup with Germany and later coached the United States men’s team, such as Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina in their group stage opener.
“We are going to see more surprises from Africa and Asia in the (2026) tournament,” Klinsmann, head of FIFA’s technical group, told reporters in Qatar.
The World Cup in Qatar with 32 teams is made up of a total of 64 games, which took place over 29 days, and for now, the final stage in 2026 will feature 80 games over 32 days.