Gianni Infantino has chosen superlatives, of course. With the “biggest announcement in the history of advertising”, the FIFA President proudly presented the massive frame of the massive 2026 World Cup and revealed the most exciting secret: the FIFA World Champion will be in New Jersey. The opening match will be held on June 11 at the ancient Aztec Stadium in… Mexico City. Many other questions remain unanswered, and huge challenges lie ahead.
Despite this, Infantino was caught up in the enthusiasm. “The final in 2026, on July 19, 2026, will be epic. “It will be amazing,” he said of the match at the Jets and Giants’ MetLife Stadium in New York, where Argentina’s successor will be sought in two and a half years. “It's something unique” to “celebrate and unite the world” in a “global city” like New York.
The stadium in East Rutherford provides space for 82,500 spectators during Major League Soccer operations. In addition to the final, the stadium will serve as a venue for seven other matches. The duel for third place takes place a day before the final at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
104 matches, 39 days, 16 stadiums: The first massive World Cup featuring 48 teams in the United States, Mexico and Canada not only sets the standard in terms of size, but also faces insurmountable obstacles. Infantino promised the soccer world “104 Super Bowls in a month” during a live show from Miami, where FIFA announced its plans late Sunday night with the help of rapper Drake and reality star Kim Kardashian. “Expanded planning” will focus on “players and fans.”
Four time zones
In reality? After all, the pressure on the fans and the teams increases dramatically. The game is played in three groups “West, Central and East” in four different time zones. Longer flights put individual teams at a competitive disadvantage. The expected summer heat in many North American cities is causing concern. The time when the matches will be played will only be determined after the draw has been made – also and above all because of the television markets.
Last year, FIFA quickly adjusted the situation for the 23rd World Cup. There will be twelve groups of four in the preliminary round, with the eight best third-placed teams also qualifying, and an intermediate round will be held before the round of 16. On the way to the World Cup title, eight matches must be played instead of the previous seven. That's a perfect fit for Infantino, who has secured his power at the top of FIFA for years through record TV revenues.
With the opening match, the Aztec Stadium in the Mexican capital became the first stadium to host matches in three finals. The 1986 World Cup finals were held there with Argentine legend Diego Maradona's famous “Hand of God” in the quarter-finals against England, and the 1970 finals with Germany's “Match of the Century” in the semi-finals against Italy.
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The semifinals will be held in soccer stadiums in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas, which feature retractable roofs, and the quarterfinals will be held in Los Angeles, Kansas City, Miami and Boston. With nine games, AT&T Stadium near Dallas, Texas is also the site with the most games.
The United States has the largest number of arenas with eleven. There are three locations in Mexico, plus Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. While Mexico hosts the Men's World Cup for the third time and the United States for the second, Canada celebrates its first bid.
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