According to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, teams participating in the expanded 2026 World Cup, hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, will be organized into regional clusters during the early rounds to facilitate travel logistics.
Infantino announced this while unveiling the tournament’s official logo and branding in Los Angeles. The decision to cluster teams is a response to the scale of the 2026 finals, which will involve 48 teams for the first time and mark the first-ever co-hosting by three countries.
Infantino acknowledged the challenges of the tournament’s vast geographical span, varying time zones, and climatic differences across the three host nations. He emphasized the importance of creating an optimal environment for teams and fans and minimizing extensive travel, particularly in the initial stages.
The plan is to create clusters where teams will be based, determined by the draw, and have their matches scheduled within those specific clusters.
The concept of regional clustering and reduced travel was discussed during a meeting of the 32 coaches involved in the previous World Cup held in Qatar. Infantino highlighted the advantage of the 2022 tournament, where players could be in their beds just an hour after finishing a match. While travel will still be involved in 2026, FIFA aims to coordinate it effectively to ensure the best possible conditions for the participating teams.
Additionally, Infantino expressed his hope that the 2026 World Cup will leave a lasting legacy and build upon the success of the 1994 finals held in the United States, which played a crucial role in establishing Major League Soccer (MLS) in North America. When asked about his desired legacy for the 2026 tournament, Infantino stated his aspiration for soccer to become the number one sport in North America.
FIFA’s announcement occurred at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, where a special event was organized, featuring a “green carpet” reception for celebrities and former players.