FIFA™ | United States of America, Canada & Mexico

2026 World Cup | Final Round Schedule Format

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The 2026 World Cup format 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 twelve World Cup groups of four 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 and Group L, each country will compete in a round-robin tournament against the other three 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. Update March 14, 2023: FIFA has decided not to start the World Cup with sixteen groups of three, but with twelve groups of four countries. This means that every match no longer necessarily has to produce a winner.

Format: 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 twelve groups, plus the eight best numbers three. 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 – update June 16, 2022: the Rose Bowl has not been selected as a final host city – 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 104 – World Cup matches to countries and host cities, are yet to be defined.

On June 16, 2022 FIFA has announced the final list of host cities and venues of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America. The United States has been allocated 11 cities / stadiums, Mexico 3, and Canada 2.

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World Cup Football Qualifiers North America, Central America, Caribbean

Qualification North America, Central America, Caribbean

In North America, Central America and the Caribbean, the FIFA qualifiers run from March 18, 2024 to November 18, 2025. Six, seven or eight of the 32 participating CONCACAF nations qualify, joining hosts USA, Canada and Mexico.

World Cup Football Qualifiers South America

FIFA World Cup football Qualification South America

In South America, the FIFA World Cup qualifiers run from September 7, 2023 to September 9, 2025. A total of 10 CONMEBOL nations participate. Six to seven South American countries will qualify. There is one single round.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Europe

FIFA World Cup football qualification Europe

In Europe, the qualifiers run from March 17, 2025 to March 31, 2026. A total of 55 (of 54) UEFA nations participate. Sixteen European countries will qualify. There is one group stage (Round 1), followed by the European play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Asia

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Asia

In Asia, the World Cup qualification runs from October 12, 2023 to November, 2025. A total of 46 AFC nations participate. Eight or nine Asian countries will qualify. There are three qualifying rounds, before the play-offs.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Africa

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Africa

In Africa, the World Cup football qualifiers run from November 13, 2023 to November 18, 2025. A total of 54 CAF nations participate. Nine or ten African countries will qualify. There are two qualification rounds.

World Cup Football Qualifiers Oceania

FIFA World Cup football Qualification Oceania

In Oceania, the FIFA qualifiers for the World Cup football run from September, 2024 to March, 2025. Eleven OFC nations participate. One or two Oceanic countries qualify. There are three qualification rounds.


Host Cities USA

The 2026 American Dream: the United States is one of the three hosts of the FIFA World Cup Soccer in North America. The USA is the host country with the most - eleven - host cities.

Host Cities Canada

With Vancouver, and Toronto, Canada has two host cities for the world's football finals in North America in 2026. Get more information about the characteristics of these exciting and diverse, dynamic cities.

Host Cities Mexico

With Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico has three candidate host cities for the World Cup in 2026. Each host with its specific ambience, history, attractions, hotspots and other features.

Stadiums USA

The United States will have eleven stadiums for the FIFA 2026 World Cup. Click for more information about these fantastic and modern venues in the USA, and which matches they will host.

Stadiums Canada

During the 2026 World Cup finals, these are the two venues in Canada: BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, and BMO Field in Toronto. Find out more about these attractive Canadian stadiums.

Stadiums Mexico

In Mexico, the FIFA 2026 World Cup will take place in these stadiums: Estadio Akron in Guadalajara, the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and the BBVA Bancomer Stadium in Monterrey.