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FIFA are considering introducing group stage penalty shootouts at the 2026 World Cup

James Aldred

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FIFA are considering introducing group stage penalty shootouts at the 2026 World Cup

FIFA are considering introducing penalty shootouts to the group stages of future World Cups, with successful teams potentially earning bonus points at the end of tied games.

That's according to The Athletic, who say the decision to implement this could come into effect as soon as 2026, when matches are set to be played in America, Canada and Mexico.

As a result of the structure of this tournament, there will be an extra knockout round following the groups, with the top two sides primed to qualify from the 16 three-team groups as per a recent, unanimous vote by FIFA.

However, shootouts after games could see countries work together to advance to the next stage.

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Currently, all final group-stage matches are played at the same time in order to avoid this happening.

This has been the case since 1986 but it seems that FIFA's chief officer for technical development, the former Netherlands star Marco van Basten, is keen to change it sooner rather than later.

''Shootouts could indeed be an option for tournaments with groups of three in which you play against two opponents," he told German outlet Sport Bild, as quoted by Daily Mail.

"It can get pretty tight. If one team for instance draws one match 0-0 and wins the other 1-0, there’s a high risk that all three teams are level on points and goals in the end."

England players line up during the penalty shootout of the Euro 2020 final. Image: Alamy
England players line up during the penalty shootout of the Euro 2020 final. Image: Alamy

Excitement is already building for the 2026 World Cup, which promises to be the biggest since the very first World Cup back in 1930.

“We have to find other ways to touch the hearts and the emotions of people,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said during a recent trip to Los Angeles, as quoted by FIFA.

“I think there are different ways of doing that, and we want to use the opportunity of this FIFA World Cup coming here. The first level is really the grassroots level; it’s the access to the sport. We have to give boys and girls, children, easier access to the sport.”

The 2026 FIFA World Cup gets underway on Monday 8th June 2026.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

James Aldred
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