The FIFA World Cup, also known as the World Cup, is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) international football competition played by the world’s men’s national teams. FIFA is the sport’s global governing body. The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world and the most-watched sporting event in the world – exceeding even the Olympics.
The World Cup’s inaugural tournament was in 1930 and has been played every four years since then, except for 1942 and 1946 because of World War II. Of the 21 World Cup tournaments that have occurred, only eight teams have been champions. Brazil won five times, Germany and Italy have won four times each, Argentina and Uruguay won twice each, and England and Spain won once each. Brazil is the only team to have played in every World Cup since 1930.
The World Cup format involves a qualification phase, which occurs during the three years preceding the actual tournament, referred to as the “World cup finals.” During the World Cup finals, 32 teams, including the automatically qualifying host countries, compete for about a month at venues in the host countries.
Host countries are chosen by the FIFA Council through an exhaustive ballot system. The national football association of a country wishing to host a World Cup receives a “Hosting Agreement,” outlining requirements and steps expected from a bid, and a form that is to be submitted as an official confirmation of candidacy. FIFA then sends inspectors to the country to analyze if that country meets the requirements and then produce a report. Decisions on host countries are typically made and announced six to seven years before the tournament. For the 2022 World Cup, Qatar was awarded as the host country and the first in the Middle East.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the 23rd World Cup and the first to be hosted by more than two countries. Three countries will host the 2026 World Cup: The United States, Canada, and Mexico. Sixteen cities across the three countries will host the tournament. Sixty matches will take place in the United States, including the quarterfinals, semi-finals, and the final match. Ten matches will take place in Canada and Mexico. The 2026 World Cup tournament will also expand from 32 teams to 48 teams.
The three countries formed the United 2026 bid, which beat Morocco during the final vote at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow. The United States last hosted the tournament in 1994, while it is Mexico’s third time hosting or co-hosting the tournament and Canada’s first time hosting or co-hosting the tournament.