New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium to host 2026 FIFA World Cup final on July 19

The 104-match tournament will open in Mexico on June 11 and will move entirely to the US from the quarterfinal round.

MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, June 20, 2014
The 82,500-capacity MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey will host the final of the 2026 World Cup [File: Seth Wenig/AP]

The 2026 World Cup final will be held at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on July 11, world football’s governing body FIFA has announced.

The world’s most popular sporting event will be held in 16 cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico, according to the tournament schedule unveiled by FIFA on Sunday.

The 48-team World Cup will open on June 11 in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca and conclude on July 19 at the 82,500-capacity MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford in New Jersey.

FIFA officials did not explain their site-decision process.

Canada will host 13 games in total, including 10 in the group stage, split evenly between Toronto and Vancouver. Mexico will also get 13 games, including 10 during the group stage, in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. The rest of the tournament will be held in 11 cities across the US.

Toronto, Mexico City, and Los Angeles will host the opening matches of their respective national teams.

The open-air stadium for the final, which opened in 2010 and cost $1.6bn, hosted the Copa America Centenario final in 2016 when Chile denied Lionel Messi’s Argentina for a second time in a penalty shootout.

FIFA did not announce kickoff times for the games.

Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca will host the opening match of the tournament on June 11, when Mexico will become the first nation to stage the World Cup for a third time. The opening day will also feature a match in Guadalajara.

Mexico hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986, with the finals of both editions held at Estadio Azteca where Pele’s Brazil crushed Italy 4-1 and Diego Maradona’s Argentina beat West Germany 3-2.

Maradona also scored the famous “hand of God” goal and the “goal of the century” at the same venue in a 2-1 victory over England in the 1986 quarterfinal.

The first match in Canada, which has never hosted a World Cup game, will be on June 12 in Toronto at the home of the city’s Major League Soccer team, while the opening game in the US will be in Los Angeles.

Each of the tournament hosts will spend the group stage in their own countries, with the USA team sticking to the West Coast and playing twice in Los Angeles and once in Seattle.

Canada will play one group stage game in Toronto, followed by two in Vancouver, while Mexico will play twice at Estadio Azteca and once in Guadalajara.

The tournament will shift entirely to the US starting with the quarterfinals, which will be held in Los Angeles, Kansas City, Miami and Boston.

Dallas and Atlanta will host the two semifinals on July 14 and 15, respectively, Miami will be the venue of the third-place playoff, while Philadelphia will host a round-of-16 match on July 4 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

The 2026 World Cup will feature 104 matches instead of the traditional 64 games, including an additional knockout round due to the previously announced decision to expand to 48 teams from 32.

A nation will need to play eight matches to win the title, up from seven since 1982.

Given the distance and different climates across the 16 host cities, FIFA opted to divide the venues being used into three regions – east, central and west – with teams operating out of a base camp in the same region as their games.

The stadiums in Arlington, Atlanta and Houston have retractable roofs that are expected to be closed because of summer heat, and Inglewood and Vancouver have fixed roofs.

Artificial turf will be replaced by grass in Arlington, Atlanta, East Rutherford, Foxborough, Houston, Inglewood and Vancouver.

Several of the venues are expected to widen their surfaces to accommodate a 75-by-115-yard (68-by-105-metre) playing field.

Source: News Agencies