The 2026 World Cup schedule consists of a group stage, followed by knockout matches in the round of 32, the round of 16, quarterfinals, and the semifinals leading up to the final, which will decide the new, 23rd world champion in the rich history of soccer. There is also the match for third and fourth place: the third-place playoff. The group stage consists of sixteen World Cup groups of three countries each. In Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E, Group F, Group G, Group H, Group I, Group J, Group K, Group L, Group M, Group N, Group O and Group P, each country will compete in a round-robin tournament against the other two countries in their group.
As a first in World Cup football history, a winner must emerge from every group match, just like in the knockout stage. Unlike the matches played from the round of 32 onwards, there is no extension in case of a tie and the match proceeds directly to a penalty-kick tiebreaker.
Final road to 2026 World Cup Soccer Championship
After the group stage, 32 of the 48 original countries remain. These are the top two countries of each of the sixteen groups. Half of them will survive the round of 32 and advance to the round of 16, which will result in eight remaining contenders who will advance to the quarterfinals. The semifinals and the final will crown the new 2026 world champion in football.
When will the 2026 FIFA World Cup matches be played? And where?
Where will the 2026 World Cup Soccer be played? And when? Subject to change, this is what is already known about the 2026 World Cup schedule: the opening match will be played at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles or at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The locations for the semifinals are the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and the AT&T Stadium in Dallas. The final of the North American Soccer World Cup is scheduled at the MetLife Stadium in New York/New Jersey. This information is in the BID United and has yet to be formalized.
Host cities and stadiums USA, Canada, Mexico
The same applies to the final (sixteen) World Cup host cities and World Cup stadiums in North America: in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. The exact dates and times of the matches and the allocation of the – in total 80 – World Cup matches to countries and host cities, are yet to be defined.