National team rosters for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar will expand from 23 to 26 players, FIFA announced Thursday.
The long-expected decision comes as no surprise after rosters at last summer’s Euros were set at 26 while both the Copa América and the African Cup of Nations were played with 28-man squads. The rosters were originally expanded during pandemic-era tournaments to counter the possibility of players testing positive for COVID-19.
The news comes less than two weeks after the International Football Association Board formally changed the game’s rules to allow for five substitutions in a match, meaning there will be two significant changes at the fall World Cup. Leagues and competitions, including the Champions League, had adopted the temporary change in 2020 until it was formally written into law.
The maximum number of players on the release list will be also increased from 35 to 55.
Meanwhile, club teams and domestic leagues are required to release their World Cup-bound players by Nov. 13. The Premier League, for example, will pause for more than a month after the Matchday 16 weekend of Nov. 12 with England playing on the opening day of the World Cup.
The World Cup will begin with Senegal vs. Netherlands on Nov. 21 and end with the Dec. 18 final.
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