Fifa considering shootouts for World Cup 2026 group stage.
Fifa is considering the introduction of penalty shootouts during the group stage of the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first edition to have 48 teams, up from 32 at Qatar 2022 and the six previous editions of the tournament.
Fears over collusion.
While Fifa has already decided that the participants will be split into 16 groups of three, there have been reports that they will revert back to four-team groups, of which there would be 12.
Fears over the three-team groups include the possibility of collusion between two teams who would already know the final points total of the third team, something which can’t happen when the final round of games in four-team groups are played simultaneously.
However, if Fifa do decide to go ahead with three-team groups, they are considering the use of penalty shootouts to award a bonus point to participants.
World Cup shootouts.
The top two teams in each of the 16 groups would go through to a 32-team knockout stage and it’s thought that the use of the penalty shootouts would reduce the risk of collusion.
However, post-match penalty shootouts would still be at risk if the outcome that would best suit both teams was known, so Fifa is considering having penalty shootouts take place before the games.
It certainly sounds like a dangerous road for football to go down and could open up the possibility of similar shootouts in league competitions around the world.
With the group stage of the 2022 World Cup currently providing plenty of entertainment, fans will hope that Fifa see sense and stick with four-team groups for the tournament which takes place in four years time.
Meanwhile, Uefa are expected to announce a new format for the European section of World Cup qualification on January 25th 2023.
There is expected to be 16 European teams at the 2026 World Cup, up from 13 in 2022, which would slightly increase Ireland’s chances of qualification.
You can read more about the format for the 2026 World Cup here.
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