FIFA are considering introducing penalty shootouts to the group stages of the 2026 World Cup

FIFA are considering introducing penalty shootouts in the GROUP STAGE of the 2026 World Cup – to award bonus points if a match ends in a draw at the 48-team tournament in the USA, Canada and Mexico

FIFA are considering introducing penalty shoot-outs to the World Cup group stages, with successful teams potentially earning bonus points at the end of tied games at the 2026 tournament. 

In four years time the World Cup will be held across the north American continent, with matches set to take place in each of USA, Canada and Mexico in a trilateral tournament.

As a result there will be an extra knockout round following the groups, with the top two sides set to qualify from the 16 three-team groups – a system adopted following a unanimous FIFA vote. 

Staging the shootouts after games does however give rise to potential collusion between the countries involved – something FIFA would understandably be eager to avoid. 

A situation could arise in which a particular result benefits both sides in question, and thereby eliminating the third team in the group. 

Since 1986 the final round of fixtures in each group has been played at the same time in order to prevent such a circumstance from arising.  

FIFA are considering introducing penalty shootouts to the group stages of the 2026 World Cup

FIFA are considering introducing penalty shootouts to the group stages of the 2026 World Cup

The shootouts could take place before or after kick-off, with teams potentially arriving for their final match tied on points and goal difference, meaning the winner of the shootout would go through if the final game should end in a tie too. 

So far in Qatar the group stage has seen nine draws – with five of them goalless – which has left several groups coming down to the wire in order to decide who progresses. 

And FIFA’s chief officer for technical development Marko van Basten has long been a proponent for the introduction of shootouts to help decide tight groups at tournaments. 

Denmark's 0-0 draw with Tunisia on November 22 was the first of five such results so far

Denmark’s 0-0 draw with Tunisia on November 22 was the first of five such results so far

‘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.

‘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.’

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