The FIFA World Cup 2026 will be the biggest FIFA tournament ever played. Given the expansion of the FIFA World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, and the fact that the tournament will be held across three host countries and 16 host cities, designing the match schedule is a rather complex matter.
Hypercube supported FIFA in constructing a schedule that minimizes travel for teams and fans alike, ensures that rest and recovery for players is prioritized throughout the tournament, and guarantees the host nations will play their three group stage matches on home soil. Importantly, the innovative calendar allows FIFA to further optimize the schedule (taking into consideration timezones and climatic forecasts) following the final draw, expected in late 2025.
Dealing with the competition format made this an even more challenging task. In 2026, 32 teams will progress from the group stage. With the eight best third-placed sides advancing alongside the top two teams from each group, this means that there are 495 possible combinations for the first-ever round of 32. For each possibility, the match schedule had to factor in the optimal configuration.
FIFA announced the match schedule to the audience in February 2024. More detailed information about the schedule can be found here.