The Washington Post

FIFA grows World Cup by 24 games for 2026


FIFA approved further expansion of North America’s 2026 World Cup on Tuesday, adding 24 games to what was already planned to be the longest tournament in the event’s history.

With these changes, 48 teams will play 104 games over as many as 40 days in the United States, Canada and Mexico, with the champion and runner-up each playing eight games rather then the current seven. The governing council of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body and the World Cup organizer, made the expansion official at its meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.

FIFA had already planned to expand from the 32-team format that has been in place since 1998. Preliminar­y conversati­ons had considered splitting the expanded 48-team field into 16 groups of three — a format that would have required 80 games, up from 64 in the existing format — but FIFA reconsider­ed, choosing to go with 12 groups of four teams and 104 games. Officials’ concerns centered on the possible manipulati­on of three-team groups and the fact that teams could be eliminated after only two games.

Under the new format, the top two teams from each group and the eight best third-place teams will progress to the knockout stage, which will begin with the round of 32. — Cindy Boren

● UNITED STATES: Alejandro Zendejas said he is committing to the U.S. national team over Mexico.

The 25-year-old forward made his U.S. debut in a Jan. 25 exhibition against Serbia but remained eligible to ask FIFA for a one-time switch of affiliatio­n to Mexico.

Zendejas started three matches for the United States at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup, where he was a teammate of Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams. He then played for Mexico in two friendlies and three under-23 matches.

● GERMANY: Freiburg’s Christian Streich, the Bundesliga’s longest-tenured coach, and his staff extended their contracts, the club announced.

Freiburg did not give the length of the new deals, but Streich has traditiona­lly extended his contract by only a year.

Inter Milan advances

Heroic defending and the woodwork helped Inter Milan reach the Champions League quarterfin­als for the first time in more than a decade.

Inter managed a 0-0 draw at Porto to progress, 1-0, on aggregate and join city rival AC Milan in the final eight. Napoli could become the third Italian team in the quarterfin­als when it plays Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday.

All the drama was saved for the fifth minute of stoppage time as a goal line clearance, the post and the crossbar prevented Porto from snatching the goal that would have taken the match to extra time. . . .

Erling Haaland tied a Champions League mark with five goals in a record-setting performanc­e to fire Manchester City into the quarterfin­als.

The 22-year-old Norway striker became the fastest player and youngest to reach 30 goals in the competitio­n in City’s 7-0 home win over RB Leipzig.

City advanced to the final eight with a 8-1 aggregate win after a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the roundof-16 matchup.

● CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Damion Lowe scored in first-half stoppage time and Dániel Gazdag padded the lead in the second half as the Philadelph­ia Union advanced to the quarterfin­als with a 4-0 victory over Salvadoran club Alianza FC in Chester, Pa.

Andrés Perea added goals in the 81st and 84th minutes to seal the win for Philadelph­ia, which drew with Alianza, 0-0, in the first leg last week. . . .

Sebastián Driussi scored twice to give Austin FC a 2-0 home win, but Haitian club Violette advanced on aggregate after beating Austin, 3-0, last week.

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