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FIFA approves World Cup expansion to 48 teams beginning in 2026

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USA TODAY

FIFA approves World Cup expansion to 48 teams beginning in 2026

If it ain't broke, FIFA will still try to make more money from it.

World soccer's governing body unanimously voted to expand the men's World Cup from 32 to 48 teams starting with the 2026 edition, which doesn't yet have a host nation.

The World Cup has expanded three times before, most recently in 1998 when the field moved from 24 to 32 teams. The new format will have 16 groups of three teams each with the top two teams from each group moving to a 32-team knockout phase. Currently, and through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, there are eight groups of four teams with the top two teams from each group advancing to a 16-team knockout phase.

Revenues for FIFA could jump by $1 billion with the 16 extra games.

The number of teams per confederation has not yet been set. The US' region, CONCACAF, currently gets three bids and a fourth team that goes to a playoff to qualify for the World Cup. That number could nearly double under the new format, which would greatly lessen the drama of qualifying for the US. The qualifying format in CONCACAF would also need a restructuring with the current six-team final qualifying round likely serving no purpose with six or more spots available to the region.

The US could also host the first 48-team tournament. With continental rotation playing a role in the selection of host nations, the US is among the favorites to host the 2026 tournament.

MLS cancels three marquee events in wake of coronavirus, reschedules for 2021

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USA TODAY

MLS cancels three marquee events in wake of coronavirus, reschedules for 2021

Major League Soccer announced Tuesday the cancelation of three marquee 2020 events in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 MLS All-Star Game, Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup have all been canceled, the league announced Tuesday. Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. was set to host the All-Star game on July 29, and MLS said the 2021 event is now expected to take place at the same venue. 

MLS will resume negotiations with LIGA MX with hopes of squaring off in the 2021 exhibition match.

The second annual Leagues Cup tournament was set to occur between July and September, featuring top MLS and LIGA MX teams. The two leagues canceled the event in a joint decision and plan to play the tournament next year.

Similarly, MLS and LIGA MX jointly canceled the Campeones Cup, which features the reigning MLS champion against the LIGA MX's Campeón de Campeones winner. The 2020 event was scheduled for Aug. 12 at CenturyLink field, home of Seattle Sounders FC. It will return in 2021.

 

MLS, U.S. soccer suspend play in response to coronavirus

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USA TODAY

MLS, U.S. soccer suspend play in response to coronavirus

American soccer is going on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MLS announced on Thursday they are suspending the season for 30 days in response to the coronavirus. U.S. Soccer later announced that they have suspended men's and women's national team games through April.

The Chicago Fire kicked off their season on March 1 and were scheduled to make their home debut at Soldier Field on March 21. 

The NBA announced the indefinite suspension of its season Wednesday after a Utah Jazz player was diagnosed with the virus. The NHL has advised teams to cancel practices and meetings.