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FIFA considers group stage penalty shootouts

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FIFA are considering introducing penalty shootouts during the group stages of the 2026 World Cup, with bonus points potentially on offer for the winners.

  The next World Cup will be staged in North America, with the USA, Canada and Mexico hosting games. The tournament will also see 48 teams involved, 16 more than are competing in the 2022 edition.

  There is no official confirmation on the format of the 2026 World Cup just yet.

  The group stages, however, are expected to feature 16 groups of three teams – rather than the eight groups of four in the current set-up – are believed to be a possibility. The top two teams progress to a knockout stage of 32 teams.

  The Athletic report that if FIFA go ahead with three-team groups – and the idea of four-team groups still can’t be ruled out – penalty shootouts could be used to help decide which teams end up progressing, with bonus points allocated to the winners.

  The same report adds that the shootouts could take place before the games kick-off, reducing the chance of manipulation. It’s for this reason that the final round of games in each World Cup group have kicked off at the same time since the 1986 tournament in Mexico.

  The United States will host most of the games at the 2026 tournament – 60, in total – including every game from the quarter-final stage onwards.

  The final will take place in New York, 32 years after the 1994 final was played on the other side of the country, in Los Angeles.

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