Opening match in Mexico, final in New York, outlines of the 2026 World Cup revealed

The contours of the next men's football World Cup are beginning to take shape

Opening match in Mexico, final in New York, outlines of the 2026 World Cup revealed

The contours of the next men's football World Cup are beginning to take shape. The International Football Federation (FIFA) unveiled, on Sunday February 4, during a ceremony televised from Miami (Florida), the details of this first 48-team World Cup, organized by the United States, Mexico and Canada (June 11 – July 19, 2026).

Like their co-hosts, Mexico will play all of their group matches on home soil, starting with the opening match, at Mexico City's iconic Azteca Stadium. The enclosure with more than 83,000 seats will become the first stadium in history to have the honors of opening the competition on three occasions, after the 1970 and 1986 World Cups – which respectively resulted in the coronations of Pelé's Brazil and Maradona's Argentina.

For the final, FIFA has opted for New York, announced the president of the body managing world football, Gianni Infantino. Host of the New York Jets and Giants American football teams, MetLife Stadium, and its 82,500 seats – located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, west of Manhattan – was therefore preferred to Dallas and Los Angeles. Angeles, other cities expected to host the final. The stadium in the New York metropolis took over, in 2010, from Giants Stadium, which had hosted three matches at the 1994 World Cup and which had seen Brazil win its fourth crown at the expense of Italy.

FIFA also revealed on Sunday the locations of the semi-finals and the third place match, all scheduled in the United States – where the majority of matches will take place (78 out of 104), where Canada and Mexico will each host thirteen matches. Dallas and Atlanta will host the final four, then Miami will be the scene of the “small finale”.

An XXL tournament and record revenues

The format of the competition has been expanded to 48 teams – compared to 32 since 1998 – for a total of 104 matches (64 previously), distributed between sixteen stadiums already revealed in 2022: eleven in the United States, with Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York; three in Mexico, with Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey; and two in Canada, with Toronto and Vancouver. The Americans will start their tournament in Los Angeles, while Canada will play its first match in Toronto.

The 48 competing teams will be divided into twelve groups of four. The first two in each “pool” as well as the eight best third-placed teams will advance to the round of 16, extending the knockout phase by one stage, which until now started in the round of 16. During the final days of the group stages, up to six matches will be played every day.

Surrounded by guests such as comedian and actor Kevin Hart, Canadian rapper Drake, star Kim Kardashian, and former Brazilian football world champion Cafu, Gianni Infantino hoped for “six million supporters” and “six billion viewers” ​​for an XXL tournament which promises FIFA to beat all its commercial records. Over the period 2019-2022, the turnover of the International Federation reached a record of 7.6 billion dollars (7.07 billion euros), with reserves of almost 4 billion dollars (3. 72 billion euros) at the end of 2022. For the 2023-2026 cycle, it anticipates revenues of 11 billion dollars (10.23 billion euros).