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New Jersey to host 2026 World Cup final and Mexico City to stage opening game

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Feb 2024

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MetLife Stadium in New Jersey will host the 2026 World Cup final and the 39-day tournament will kick off at Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium.

Governing body FIFA confirmed the match schedule on Sunday for the showpiece event, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, will involve 48 teams for the first time.

The MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford is home for NFL teams the New York Giants and New York Jets and has a capacity of around 82,500.

It was opened in 2010 and replaced Giants Stadium, which was one of the host venues for the 1994 World Cup held solely by the United States.

Mexico hosted the finals alone in both 1970, when Brazil lifted the trophy, and in 1986 – when Diego Maradona guided Argentina to success after scoring his ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-finals.

The Aztec Stadium is set to host opening match for the third time and will become the first ground to do so.

The AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – home of the Dallas Cowboys – will be one of the semi-final venues, along with the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home to the city’s Major League Soccer club as well as the Falcons NFL franchise.

The third-place play-off will be hosted at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

The Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the NRG Stadium in Houston, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California are other US venues.

Dallas will host a total of nine matches – the most of any city at the tournament.

All of the co-hosts will play their three group-stage fixtures on home soil.

Canada’s first game will be held in Toronto on June 12, while the USA’s opening match will be played at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on the same day.

The USA’s other group match will be at Lumen Field in Seattle on June 19 before playing again in Inglewood on June 25.

Mexico will play a fixture in Guadalajara on June 18 and then be back in Mexico City on June 24, while Monterrey will also host other games.

After playing in Toronto, Canada will head west to Vancouver for two games at BC Place.

The 2014 and 2018 finals lasted 32 days, as did France in 1998. FIFA had already said the 2026 tournament would have the same 56-day overall ‘footprint’ of rest, release and tournament days as the three most recent summer finals.

The 2026 World Cup will feature 12 four-team groups and a last-32 knockout round for the first time, while 104 matches will be played in total.

The remaining match details will be confirmed following the draw for the finals, which is expected to take place towards the end of 2025.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “The most inclusive and impactful World Cup ever is no longer a dream, but a reality that will take shape in the form of 104 matches in 16 state-of-the-art stadiums across Canada, Mexico and the USA.

“From the opening match at the iconic Estadio Azteca to the spectacular final in New York New Jersey, players and fans have been at the core of our extensive planning for this game-changing tournament.”

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