FIFA considering group stage penalty shootouts at expanded World Cup in 2026
- 2026 World Cup to feature 48 teams
- FIFA assessing format
- Could introduce penalty shootouts to group stage
WHAT HAPPENED? The Athletic reports that FIFA is considering a huge change to the rules for the 2026 World Cup. The change would see teams compete in a penalty shootout if they draw a group stage game, with a potential extra point up for grabs for the winners.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: 2026 will be the first year the World Cup expands from a 32 team tournament to 48 teams, meaning a mammoth round will take place after the group stages. While not yet confirmed, 16 three-team groups look set to be established instead of the usual eight groups of four, with the top two from each group qualifying for a round of 32 knockout stage.
AND WHAT'S MORE: In order to combat potential collusion that could come with staging penalty shootouts after games, FIFA is considering the idea of them taking place before games as a result. FIFA have had to combat this before, with the final matchday of World Cup group stages kicking off at exactly the same day and time since 1986, in order to avoid any foul play.
IN TWO PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WORLD CUP? It remains to be seen what the 2026 tournament, which takes place within the United States, Mexico and Canada, will look like with its new, unprecedented format. But fans are surely already forming opinions as reports trickle out.