News FIFA Council Approves International Match Calendars

The FIFA Council met in advance of the 73rd FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, and adopted several key decisions, particularly in relation to the future of men’s and women’s competitions, for which the respective international match calendars were unanimously approved following a detailed consultation process.

Men’s International Match Calendar 2025-2030

The Men’s International Match Calendar 2025-2030 will be structured as follows: • March: a nine-day, two-match window • June: a nine-day, two-match window (including friendlies in preparation of final tournaments where appropriate) • Late September/early October: a 16-day, four-match window (to be introduced as of 2026, with two nine-day, two-match windows to be retained in September and October 2025) • November: a nine-day, two-match window Based on the new calendar, the FIFA World Cup 2026 final will be played on Sunday, 19 July 2026, with the mandatory release period starting on 25 May 2026, following the last official club match on 24 May 2026 (exemptions may apply to the final matches of confederation club competitions until 30 May 2026 subject to FIFA’s approval). With 56 days, the total combined number of rest, release and tournament days remain identical to the 2010, 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup™ editions. The detailed Men’s International Match Calendar 2025-2030 will be published in the coming days.

Women’s International Match Calendar 2024-2025

As per the current calendar, the Women’s International Match Calendar 2024-2025 will contain six international windows per year. Some of these windows will include a variety of window types to enable the confederations to deliver their specific competition qualification pathways and to enable the member associations to play friendly matches. The Women’s Olympic Football Tournament dates (25 July-10 August 2024) have been added to the calendar, as well as the Concacaf W Gold Cup that will be played for the first time from 20 February to 10 March 2024.

FIFA World Cup 2026 competition format

Based on a thorough review that considered sporting integrity, player welfare, team travel, commercial and sporting attractiveness, as well as team and fan experience, the FIFA Council unanimously approved the proposed amendment to the FIFA World Cup 2026 competition format from 16 groups of three to 12 groups of four with the top two and eight best third-placed teams progressing to a round of 32. The revised format mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all the teams play a minimum of three matches, while providing balanced rest time between competing teams.

Other decisions

The regulations in relation to the operations of the FIFA Talent Development Scheme in which FIFA will invest USD 200 million from 2023 to 2026 were unanimously approved. An update on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ was provided, and the FIFA Council approved the publication of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ debrief report. The FIFA Council confirmed that the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup UAE 2023™ will take place from 16 to 26 November 2023, and the slot allocation for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Seychelles 2025™ was also approved.


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