New Jersey to host 2026 World Cup final, Mexico gets opener

February 5, 2024 7:37 am

[Source: Reuters]

The 2026 World Cup final will be held in New Jersey at the home of the National Football League’s New York Giants and New York Jets, world soccer’s governing body FIFA announced on Sunday, along with the entire schedule for the global soccer showcase.

The 48-team World Cup, which will conclude on July 19 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, is being co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The open-air stadium for the final, which has a capacity of 82,500, hosted the Copa America Centenario final in 2016 when Chile denied Lionel Messi’s Argentina for a second time in a penalty shootout.

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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.

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 quarter-finals.

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

Each of the tournament hosts will spend the group stage in their own countries, with the United States 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 at Guadalajara.

The tournament will shift entirely to the United States starting with the quarter-final round, which will be held in Los Angeles, Kansas City, Miami, Boston.

Dallas and Atlanta will host the two semi-finals, Miami will be the site 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.