The 2026 World Cup final is set to take place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on July 19, marking a significant event in soccer history with the tournament expanding to 48 nations and increasing matches from 64 to 104. The announcement by FIFA also highlighted other key venues across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, reflecting the tri-nation hosting arrangement for this massive event.
Mexico City's Estadio Azteca will kick off the tournament on June 11, symbolizing the start of the 39-day soccer extravaganza. The U.S. team's journey begins at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on June 12, showcasing matches across various iconic stadiums. Notably, the quarterfinals and semifinals are distributed among venues like Gillette Stadium, SoFi Stadium, AT&T Stadium, and Mercedes Benz Stadium, leading up to the grand finale in New Jersey.
AT&T Stadium, known for hosting the Dallas Cowboys, emerges as a pivotal location with the highest number of matches, nine in total. FIFA's selection process for these sites remains undisclosed, sparking curiosity about the criteria for these decisions.
The tournament's structure demands a nation to play eight matches to clinch the title, an increase from the previous seven matches since 1982. This change, along with the regional grouping of the group stage, aims to reduce travel time for teams and ensure adequate rest, enhancing the competitive integrity of the World Cup.
Canada and Mexico will also host matches, with Canada's opening match in Toronto and Mexico utilizing Estadio BBVA in Monterrey and Estadio Akron in Guadalajara. All selected U.S. stadiums serve as homes to NFL teams, underlining the cross-sport utility of these venues.
Significant modifications are planned for several stadiums to meet FIFA's standards, including the installation of grass over artificial turf and expansions to accommodate the required playing field dimensions. These preparations underscore the logistical challenges and the extensive efforts to ensure the tournament's success.
FIFA's decision not to disclose kickoff times leaves room for speculation about scheduling, particularly considering the global audience and the need to balance the interests of viewers across different time zones. The 2026 World Cup promises to be a landmark event in the sport's history, with its expanded format and the collaborative hosting arrangement showcasing soccer's universal appeal and the capacity of these nations to stage a global spectacle.