Top 10 2026 FIFA World Cup Facts You Must Know

Tags: #FIFAWorldCup ,   #FIFAWorldCup ,   #Soccer ,   #Football

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-06-19 10:06:00

As all North American World Cups are among the best ever, we expect the same from the 2026 tournament! Yet, this will be a new chapter, as FIFA is set to make it bigger than ever. Still, that also creates confusion even among the biggest association football fanatics. Therefore, we'll make things more understandable with our top ten list. As significant changes are still to come, we'll keep it up-to-date.

10. FIFA World Cup 2026 Host Country

An incredible moment for association football in North America!
Why it's good: North American World Cups are always great
Why it might be a wrong move: Huge majority of matches are in the USA
Our take: We love that these countries will host the 2026 World Cup, but Mexico especially needs more games
Host country info

In 2002, Japan and South Korea became the first countries to organize the FIFA World Cup together. Yet, World Cup 2026 will raise the bar as three nations are hosts - Canada, Mexico, and the USA! Still, that doesn't mean they will all be treated equally. Instead, a massive majority of matches will be in the USA, including every quarterfinals, semifinals, and final.

Interestingly, all countries wanted to host this World Cup individually before joining forces in 2017. That gave them a dominant position over Morocco's World Cup bid, as they beat it considerably. In the 2018 FIFA Congress, the United 2026 bid got 134 votes, with Morocco receiving only 65. While the USA and Mexico have already hosted FIFA World Cups, this will be a new challenge for Canada. However, the country has already successfully organized the 2015 Women's World Cup.

9. 2026 World Cup Qualification

AFC has already decided on Asian World Cup qualifiers
Why it's good: OFC gets a direct spot at the World Cup
Why it might be a wrong move: Does CONCACAF deserve 6 or 7 teams at the World Cup?
Our take: Europe should have at least 20 World Cup spots - the quality will suffer as FIFA targets diversity
2026 World Cup qualification info

The official 2026 tournament will be the largest so far, as 48 nations will compete for the trophy. While Canada, the USA, and Mexico qualified automatically, there are still 45 slots left. All other nations have to qualify, including the current World Cup champions. Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) has guaranteed a berth for the first time, with New Zealand a giant favorite to win it. Yet, while the European teams have dominated the World Cup in the 21st century, they got only 16 spots, three more than before. On the other hand, CONCACAF will have six or seven teams, almost doubling what was before.

Finally, FIFA plans a playoff tournament to determine the final two World Cup competitors. Six nations will contest these spots, including two from CONCACAF and none from UEFA. Interestingly, this will be a straight knockout contest, as the two highest-ranked teams will skip the first round. Therefore, they will need a single triumph to qualify. As for the continental qualifiers, only AFC has already decided on the format, while the rest of the confederations will do it in 2023.

8. 2026 FIFA World Cup Competition Format

This will be the first World Cup competition format change since 1998
Why it's good: Four teams in groups, everyone has a chance to qualify even after two start defeats
Why it might be a wrong move: That's a lot of games
Our take: If we needed the 48-team tournament, this is the best possible format
2026 competition format pros and cons

Well, this is where things get really complicated! With 48 teams involved, FIFA initially split them into 16 groups of only three. The idea was for the first two nations to progress into the next round, as 32 would enter the straight knockout phase. This way, the winning nation would still play seven games, as has been the case since 1974. However, no one is pleased with that, as the last group match could easily be fixed as it happened in the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Luckily, FIFA changed the format, so teams are divided into 12 groups of four. This is a much better solution, as the last group games can still happen simultaneously, preventing calculations. Furthermore, as eight third-placed teams progress, everyone still has a chance, even after losing two initial games. Of course, this change means the tournament will host 104 matches, and the winner will play eight. However, this will also give more games to Mexico and Canada, and the tournament will last 39 days.

7. 2026 FIFA World Cup Stadiums

Of course, every stadium will be upgraded for the World Cup
Why it's good: Almost all stadiums are massive
Why it might be a wrong move: Can we get at least one 1994 World Cup stadium back, please?
Our take: Azteca stadium needs a vital role in this World Cup
2026 FIFA World Cup stadiums pros and cons

As over 40 cities submitted their bid to host the World Cup games, there were two elimination rounds. Finally, 16 host cities have been chosen, with 11 in the United States, 2 in Canada, and 3 in Mexico. Every city will feature a single stadium, but none hosted games in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. However, the legendary Azteca stadium in Mexico City, where Pele and Maradona became world champions, will be in use. Five arenas have retractable roofs and climate control, so they might be used for daylight clashes.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup could set records again, as most stadiums have a massive capacity. While Estadio Azteca officially has the biggest accommodation at over 87 thousand, Los Angeles and Dallas stadiums are expandable to over 100 thousand visitors. While most of these venues primarily host NFL and CFL teams, they also serve soccer teams. Although we have yet to determine the 2026 World Cup final stadium, it will be one in the USA.

6. 2026 World Cup Controversies

This is how it all started with Russia - long before the war
Why it's good: The countries won their bid fair and square
What might go wrong: Politics may again play an important role
Our take: There won't be any major scandals, but Russia won't be at the 2026 FIFA World Cup
2026 FIFA World Cup controversies

As the biggest global event, every World Cup brings controversies. However, it's hard to believe it will top the Qatar World Cup in that segment. Some cities in the Land of Free still lack the proper infrastructure, bringing clashes with local environmentalists, like in Philadelphia. Furthermore, we already mentioned the tournament format changes, as many have criticized the concept. Yet, while FIFA claims they do it to make the World Cup more inclusive, it's all about the money. Luckily, the USA, Mexico, and Canada have the resources, but how will some future hosts deal with it?

Also, many forgot that the USA lost the 2022 bid to Qatar due to the FIFA corruption scandal. FIFA even admitted the irregularities by suspending the 2026 World Cup bidding in 2015 before they could sort things out. Finally, currently, no one knows what will happen to Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine. There's little time for the decision, as the Euro qualifiers will probably begin after the Euro 2024 tournament. It seems that most controversies are not related to the host countries but to international politics and FIFA decisions. Yet, the global influence of the USA may help things.

5. Possible 2026 FIFA World Cup Rule Changes

The offside rule changes are always a hot topic
Why it's good: VAR decisions will be better communicated
Why it might be a wrong move: We really don't need radical changes
Our take: FIFA will introduce some changes, but none will be radical
World Cup rule changes info

FIFA is constantly experimenting with new rules, some of which are tested now. Yet, a few, like white cards, remain undefined. While the purpose is to reward fair play, we still need to figure out how it will benefit teams and players. On the contrary, VAR changes will help everyone, especially fans. This means the decision will be better communicated with fans in stadiums or while watching a broadcast. This improvement will surely be in the 2026 World Cup, especially as it doesn't slow down the game.

Furthermore, there are several ideas on how to decrease time-wasting, and some are radical. While in Qatar World Cup, we had massive added time, now the clock may stop when the ball isn't in play. Yet, it feels like the added time is here to stay but will become even longer. Another realistic rule modification might be connected with substitutions. Therefore, we can expect more changes. FIFA is even testing unlimited substitutions, but it's doubtful it will become a rule soon. Many radical ideas are coming from the organization, but it's improbable we'll see them in 2026.

4. The 2026 World Cup Tickets

It was expensive in Qatar, and it won't be cheap in 2026 too
Why it's good: Massive stadiums and over 100 games mean way more tickets than ever before
Why it might be a wrong move: It's guaranteed to be expensive
Our take: You'll need to buy your tickets early and plan ahead unless you live in the host city
2026 World Cup tickets pros and cons

Undoubtedly, the 2026 FIFA World Cup tickets will sell out, as in 1994. Therefore, many fans would like to buy them as soon as possible. The FIFA website is the best place to check tickets, but there's no rush. This is as they will be available in 2025! Judging by the 2022 Qatar World Cup, they will be on sale around September 2025.

As for the prices, the cheapest group match tickets will cost less than a hundred dollars. However, the elimination phase always inflates the prices and becomes progressively more expensive. Consequently, the cheapest for the final might be well over $500. For example, they were over $600 in Qatar. While FIFA provided tickets for the locals for a third of the regular price, we wouldn't count on that, at least in the USA.

3. Who Are the Top 2026 World Cup Favorites?

Surprises are yet to happen in the World Cup final
Why it's good: We'll almost be guaranteed to see all previous World Cup champions
What might go wrong: Injuries can reshape things, and they probably will
Our take: A favorite will probably triumph again
2026 FIFA World Cup favorites

Unfortunately, some top stars probably won't be there, and even Neymar (30) announced his World Cup retirement. While Argentina and Brazil are consistently among the favorites, no one should forget about Germany, Italy, or the talented Spanish generation. Yet, France will still have Kylian Mbappe in his prime, with several other talented players to support him.

However, things will become much more apparent after another round of continental championships, including EURO 2024 in Germany. Yet, World Cups taught us that the favorites always win the World Cup. Hence, only eight nations grabbed the title, and six did it at least twice! As 48 teams will play in the tournament, they may all be there.

2. What Can Host Nations Achieve?

Mexican fans deserve so much more
Why it's good: Host nations traditionally perform well
What might go wrong: Canada needs to improve
Our take: USA has the most potential, but even Canada will go to the elimination phase
Host nations pros and cons

Mexico, Canada, and the USA showed little in the 2022 World Cup, but it seems realistic they will improve in 2026. However, they won't be among the favorites to win it all. As for Canada, this will be their third World Cup, and their minimum goal will be to win a game. Unfortunately, all their six matches so far resulted in defeats! Still, this generation has plenty of talent and may reach the elimination round. As traditionally the best CONCACAF team, Mexico is struggling, falling behind USA and Canada. They will need a complete rebuild before the tournament and will have the best fan support.

Finally, the USA's young and talented team will reach its prime in 2026. Guys like Weah or Pulisic can take them far, even though the semifinals don't seem realistic. While the USA regularly reaches the elimination round, they rarely advance to the quarterfinals. Still, as we saw with Morocco World Cup upsets, anything is possible if the team is ready to give it all.

1. Will Messi and Ronaldo play in the 2026 FIFA World Cup?

One of the best World Cup performances still belongs to Ronaldo
Why it's good: They are massively popular and will always draw attention
Why it might be a wrong move: Will they have any real impact?
Our take: Messi will be back even if he doesn't play great - Ronaldo will have to be at a high level
Messi and Ronaldo cons and pros

It sounds incredible, but they may actually do! Leo Messi was ready to retire from Argentina's national team for the third time (!), but things changed after he won the title. In 2026, Messi will be 39, but it may happen with him playing at a high level. Indeed, he would have to modify his role a bit, but Argentina is a solid team that can cover his mistakes. Therefore, if he stays healthy, he'll be there and will have some impact on the results.

As for Ronaldo, he is the fittest soccer player ever! In 2026 he would be 41, but let's remember that Zlatan Ibrahimović was still a force at that age. Cristiano has an insatiable love for the game, and despite what happened in Qatar, he vowed to continue. While he is mentally much tougher than Messi, the 2026 World Cup still looks far away. Ronaldo will need to continue playing at a high level and even change his style to stay relevant.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup has excellent potential, and it's hard to bet against it. However, let's hope that FIFA will choose the correct format and avoid controversies. We would also love to see more matches in Canada and Mexico, which already gave us two excellent World Cups.

Will the next World Cup be super successful? Who do you think will win it?

Cover photo:



Add new Comment

Characters 0 of 1000

Thank you for comment

Similar Articles

Latest Articles

Top 5 Articles

Trending Articles

Sponsor Ads