The Bureau of the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup has confirmed that the competition format for the final tournament in Japan and Korea Republic will be the same as that at France 98 - namely, with a first stage played in eight groups, and then a knock-out competition through to the Final. The total number of matches will thus remain at 64.
The Bureau, meeting in Los Angeles under the chairmanship of Lennart Johansson (Sweden) and in the framework of the FIFA Women's World Cup, was thus unable to accept a Japanese proposal for an increase in the number of matches by playing the second stage also in a group format.
The Bureau agreed to a proposal to start the final competition in Japan and Korea Republic as early as possible in the summer of 2002, because of the potentially unfavourable weather in late June and July. The continental confederations are to study a proposal for 23 May 2002 as the target date for the start of the final tournament, and how their respective schedules may be adjusted to permit such an early start.
The confederations were also asked to submit in writing their detailed proposals for their respective qualifying competitions, once the number of slots per continent has been definitively fixed by the Executive Committee at its meeting in Los Angfeles on Monday and Tuesday.