Euro 2020 Special

World Cup News: FIFA Returns to Four Team Groups and Morocco Enters 2030 Race


Although it has only been a few months since the conclusion of the last World Cup in 2022, people are already looking forward to future tournaments.

FIFA, football’s world governing body, has decided that the next tournament, which is being staged jointly by the USA, Canada, and Mexico, will once again feature four teams in the group stage, signalling a change of mind over their earlier intentions. Meanwhile, Morocco, the nation that did so well in Qatar, has decided to enter the race to stage it in 2030, and has joined Spain and Portugal in their bid.


2026 Expansion

For the first time, the World Cup Finals of 2026 will feature 48 teams, up from the current 32 sides.

The original intention was to split these into 16 groups of 3 teams each, with the top two in each group progressing to the knock-out stage.

The drawback of this format, is that this always left one team in the group idle whilst the others played, and, potentially it also meant a series of dead rubber matches. There were also concerns that this left the option for some results to be manipulated, as has happened in the past in some World Cup tournaments.

Having seen all the drama in Qatar, where the outcome of several groups was decided by the last round of matches, it has been decided to stick with that formula.

However, the consequence of the decision is that the number of matches played will now increase to 104, and the four teams that reached the semi-final stage of the competition and beyond, will now play eight matches not seven.

For the sixteen cities which have already been chosen to host games, it will mean they will have to clear other dates in their schedule to fit in the extra matches, and it could yet open the door for those cities which were initially unsuccessful in the bidding process.

The news, though, about the extra matches will not go down well with the players’ union, FIFPro, who have made no secrets of their concerns about the workload placed on players. However, as usual FIFA seem determined to press ahead, regardless of any issues that other stakeholders might have.



Meanwhile, Morocco, following on from their success in Qatar, where they became not only the first African, but also the first Arab nation (and the first with a predominantly Muslim population), have entered the race to host the 2030 World Cup, by becoming part of the existing joint bid from Spain and Portugal.

It brings together countries from both sides of the Mediterranean, representing the African, Arab and European worlds.

Previously Ukraine had indicated that they also wanted to be part of this joint bid, but FIFA has concerns over the existing armed conflict with Russia, and there have also been governance issues with the Ukrainian FA.

Morocco had previously bid for the World Cup in 2010, the first time that the tournament had been staged in Africa. However, on that occasion they lost out to Africa.

Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay have already thrown their hat in the ring to stage the tournament, which will mark the centenary of the World Cup. Normally tournaments are not staged in the same hemisphere consecutively, but it is hoped that, as it will be 100 years since the cup was first contested in Uruguay in 1930, FIFA will want to honour the occasion appropriately.

There remains the possibility that Saudi Arabia will also enter the bidding race, possibly as part of a joint bid with Greece, and Egypt, in what would be the first bid from nations representing three continents.

Again that could put FIFA on a collision course with FIFPro, who have said that they do now want any more World Cup without significant changes to the footballing calendar, Like Qatar, any award to the World Cup to Saudi Arabia would necessitate a switch from its traditional summer scheduling, due to the ferocity of heat in the Middle East at that time of year.



The winners of the right to host the 2030 World Cup will be announced at the 74th annual FIFA Congress next year, six years in advance of the tournament itself.

Between now and then, FIFA will carry out monitoring inspections and hold detailed discussions with the bidding parties.




Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.