New Jersey to host 2026 World Cup final with opener in Mexico City

4 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Azteca StadiumThe Azteca Stadium saw Diego Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in 1986

MetLife Stadium in New Jersey will host the 2026 World Cup final on 19 July, while Azteca Stadium in Mexico City will stage the opening group game on 11 June.

Mexico is one of three countries co-hosting the expanded 48-team tournament along with USA and Canada which will last a record 39 days.

They have hosted two World Cups in 1970 and 1986, while the US hosted in 1994.

Canada are first-time hosts and their opening game is in Toronto on 12 June.

The United States will play their opening match at So-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles also on 12 June

The Azteca was the venue for Argentina striker Diego Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ goal in the 2-1 win against England in the 1986 quarter-finals and has a capacity of 83,000.

MetLife Stadium, home to American football teams the New York Giants and New York Jets, is based in New Jersey’s East Rutherford and can hold 82,500 fans. It was one of the host stadiums for the 1994 World Cup.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino, alongside comedian and actor Kevin Hart, rapper Drake and celebrity Kim Kardashian, announced the plans on Sunday and also revealed the third-place play-off match will take place in Miami.

The quarter-finals onwards will be held in US cities, with Los Angeles, Kansas City, Miami and Boston hosting last-eight matches, while the semi-finals will be in Dallas and Atlanta. Dallas will host a record nine matches.

The draw for the World Cup is expected to take place towards the end of 2025.

The tournament will last 10 more days than the 2022 edition in Qatar.

In total, 16 cities have been chosen including Monterrey and Guadalajara in Mexico, and Vancouver in Canada.

Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle and San Francisco are the other US host cities.

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”.

Fifa said the schedule was drawn up in consultation with stakeholders including national team coaches and technical directors.

The governing body says teams will have three days of rest for 103 of the tournament’s record 104 matches.

“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.

The new format will feature 12 four-team groups and a last-32 knockout round for the first time.

The tournament hosts will play the group stage in their own countries, with the US staying on the West Coast with two games in LA and one in Seattle.

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