Qatar December 02, 2022: World Cup organisers are open to a U-turn over their plans to introduce three-team groups in 2026.
However, sticking with four-team groups for the planned 48-team competition could mean the next tournament breaks the 100-game threshold.
Fifa had previously agreed to introduce 16 groups of three in the next competition across US, Canada and Mexico. While the governing body's official position remains unaltered, insiders have told Telegraph Sport of “corridor chats” in Qatar about a rethink.
The prospect of more dead rubber matches, which would be a product of a reduction in the number of teams in each group, has put off some administrators.
The benefits of the four-team format, meanwhile, have been underlined in Qatar, after four group-stage concluding matches on Wednesday all went down to the wire.
Very informal conversations are taking place between powerbrokers over sticking with groups of four, but serious discussions appear likely next year.
Other solutions, including potentially introducing penalties in the second round of matches, had previously considered but now appear unlikely.
A revised plan would probably see the introduction of 12 groups of four, with the eight highest-placed third-place finishers also going through to a last 32. Under that new format, including an extra round, the World Cup from 2026 onwards could include 104 games.
The groups-of-three format would have entailed 80 matches, and despite major sensitivities around increasingly busy playing calendars, Fifa would be expected to welcome the prospect of extra revenue.
After abandoned proposals to introduce a World Cup every two years and extra matches in European domestic competitions, one source said there remain "deep sensitivities", however, over adding extra games to the calendar.
Fifa council members had originally voted for the 2026 edition to have three-team groups, with 16 more teams than in the past seven World Cups. But the problem with that system is that the two teams involved in the final group match could know exactly what result is required for both to progress.
Organisers would be keen to avoid a situation like the notorious 1-0 win for West Germany against Austria, which allowed both teams to qualify, at the expense of Algeria in the 1982 World Cup.