New Jersey to host 2026 World Cup final

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The 2026 World Cup final is scheduled to take place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on July 19, with the opening group game set to be held at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on June 11.

Mexico is part of the trio co-hosting the expanded 48-team tournament, alongside the USA and Canada, spanning a record-breaking 39 days.

Having previously hosted two World Cups in 1970 and 1986, Mexico has the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, renowned for Diego Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ goal in the 1986 quarter-finals, with a capacity of 83,000.

Canada, a first-time host, will kick off their opening game in Toronto on June 12, while the United States will play their inaugural match at So-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles, also on June 12.

MetLife Stadium, located in New Jersey’s East Rutherford and home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, will host the 2026 World Cup final on July 19. With a seating capacity of 82,500, it was previously a host venue for the 1994 World Cup.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, joined by comedian and actor Kevin Hart, rapper Drake, and celebrity Kim Kardashian, revealed the plans on Sunday.

They also disclosed that the third-place play-off match would be held in Miami.

From the quarter-finals onward, the matches will be hosted in US cities. Los Angeles, Kansas City, Miami, and Boston are set to host the last-eight matches, while the semi-finals will take place in Dallas and Atlanta.

Dallas is slated to host a record nine matches. The draw for the World Cup is anticipated to occur toward the end of 2025.

The tournament’s duration will be extended by 10 days compared to the 2022 edition in Qatar. A total of 16 cities have been selected, including Monterrey and Guadalajara in Mexico, and Vancouver in Canada.

Other US host cities include Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Only one city, Guadalajara, will not host a knockout game.

Teams are likely to face a large amount of travel between games.

The shortest distance between a quarter-final and a semi-final venue is just over 500 miles from Kansas City to Dallas while the longest – between Los Angeles and Atlanta – is just under 2,200 miles.

Infantino said “players and fans have been at the core of our extensive planning for this game-changing tournament” and it will be a tournament that will “not only set new records but also leave an indelible legacy”.

According to FIFA, the timetable was developed after consulting with various parties, such as technical directors and coaches of national teams.

For 103 of the 104 matches in the tournament’s history, teams will have three days off, according to the regulating organization.

“The tournament’s innovative match schedule will serve to minimise travel for teams and fans alike, while the number of rest days between fixtures will be maximised,” the governing body said.

There will be 12 four-team groups in the new structure, and it will include a first-ever last-32 knockout phase.

The group stage matches will be played in the nations that are hosting the event; the US will remain on the West Coast, hosting two games in Los Angeles and one in Seattle.

Mexico will play twice in the Azteca and once in Guadalajara, while Canada will play one group stage match in Toronto and two in Vancouver.