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FIFA World Cup explanation

FIFA World Cup explanation

The FIFA World Cup, the biggest soccer competition, starts again in 2022.

The qualification process starts over three years before the final tournament, with 211 national teams eligible to qualify but only 32 of them make it to the group stage. The home nation and the champion of the previous World Cup are automatically qualified. 

The competition lasts for a month in the host nation/nations and it has two stages, the group stage, and the knockout stage. In the group stage, the 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four based on the FIFA World Ranking. The top two teams of each group advance to the knockout stage. 

In the second round (round of 16), the winner of a group plays the runner-up for another group. In case of a draw, the winner is decided by extra time (15 minutes a half) or penalty shootout. The round of 16 is followed by the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, the third-place match (semi-final losers) and the final. 

However, FIFA is discussing a new 48-team World Cup format to be used in the 2026 World Cup. That will form 16 groups of three teams, and then a round of 32 knockout stage.

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