• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

FIFA piles more pressure on groundsman

FIFA has released its international match calendar for the 2025-2030 window. While the toolkit for groundsman is growing every day, the increase in the number of games FIFA intends to play and the short timespan left for groundsman to work the surface, is worrying.

The Men’s International Match Calendar 2025-2030 will be structured as follows:

  • March: a nine-day, two-match window
  • June: a nine-day, two-match window (including friendlies in preparation of final tournaments where appropriate)
  • Late September/early October: a 16-day, four-match window (to be introduced as of 2026, with two nine-day, two-match windows to be retained in September and October 2025)
  • November: a nine-day, two-match window

Based on the new calendar, the FIFA World Cup 2026 final will be played on Sunday, 19 July 2026. With 56 days, the total combined number of rest, release and tournament days remain identical to the 2010, 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup™ editions. The detailed Men’s International Match Calendar 2025-2030 will be published soon.

Women’s International Match Calendar 2024-2025

As per the current calendar, the Women’s International Match Calendar 2024-2025 will contain six international windows per year. Some of these windows will include a variety of window types to enable the confederations to deliver their specific competition qualification pathways and to enable the member associations to play friendly matches.

The Women’s Olympic Football Tournament dates (25 July-10 August 2024) have been added to the calendar, as well as the Concacaf W Gold Cup that will be played for the first time from 20 February to 10 March 2024.

The FIFA Council also unanimously approved the establishment of a dedicated task force on player welfare to ensure the smooth implementation of player welfare principles such as mandatory rest periods.

“FIFA promoted a truly global approach to the discussions on the International Match Calendar, which considered the perspectives of all key stakeholders,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“Our fundamental objective is to have clarity on this topic, and to have meaningful football matches while protecting the well-being of the players and recognising that many regions need more competitive football.”


FIFA World Cup 2026 competition format

Based on a thorough review that considered sporting integrity, player welfare, team travel, commercial and sporting attractiveness, as well as team and fan experience, the FIFA Council unanimously approved the proposed amendment to the FIFA World Cup 2026 competition format from 16 groups of three to 12 groups of four with the top two and eight best third-placed teams progressing to a round of 32. The revised format mitigates the risk of collusion and ensures that all the teams play a minimum of three matches, while providing balanced rest time between competing teams.

A total of 104 will be played which has come a bit as a surprise to the Local Organising Committee. They had divided the 80 games (like played in Qatar) as follows: 60 in the US, 10 in Canada and 10 in Mexico.

All this means that the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North-America will require 48 base camps and close to 100 match and (neutral) training sites. The 2026 LOC has already announced the match venues:


  • MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, N.J.
  • AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas.
  • Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, Mo.
  • NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Ga.
  • SoFi Stadium – Inglewood, Calif.
  • Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Lumen Field – Seattle, Wash.
  • Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Mass.
  • Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, Fla.


  • Estadio Azteca – Mexico City
  • Estadio BBVA – Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
  • Estadio Akron – Guadalajara, Jalisco


  • BC Place – Vancouver, B.C.
  • BMO Field – Toronto, Ont.

FIFA Club World Cup 2025™ – key principles of access list

Following on from the approval of the slot allocation for the 32-team FIFA Club World Cup™ that will be played every four years as of June 2025, the FIFA Council unanimously approved the key principles of access with the aim of ensuring the highest quality possible based on sporting criteria.

With a period of consideration being the four-year period of the seasons ending in 2021 and 2024, the key principles of access are as follows:

For confederations with more than four slots: access for the champions of the previous four editions of the confederation’s premier club competition, and additional teams to be determined by a club ranking based on the same four-year period

For confederations with four slots: access for the champions of the previous four editions of the confederation’s premier club competition

For confederations with one slot: access for the highest ranked club between the champions of the confederation’s premier club competition in the four-year period

For the host country: access for the club occupying this slot will be determined at a later stage

Other criteria also apply:

In the event of a club winning two or more editions of the confederation’s premier club competition during the 2021-2024 period, a club ranking calculated based on sporting criteria will be used to grant access

A cap of two clubs per country will be applied to the access list with an exception in case more than two clubs from the same country win the confederation’s premier club competition over the four-year period

Further consultation will follow with confederations and stakeholders to define the calculation mechanisms of the club ranking, which will be based on sporting criteria

Yearly FIFA club competition

Since the current version of the FIFA Club World Cup™ will be discontinued after the 2023 edition and, given the need expressed by the confederations for the champions of their premier club competitions to play each other annually to stimulate competitiveness, the FIFA Council unanimously approved the strategic concept of a yearly FIFA club competition as of 2024. This competition will feature the champions of the premier club competitions of all confederations and conclude with a final to be played at a neutral venue, between the winner of the UEFA Champions League and the winner of intercontinental play-offs between the other confederations. Details on timing and format will follow in due course.

Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

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