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World Cup 2026 to begin at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium with final in New Jersey

The competition will involve 48 teams for the first time and be co-hosted by the United States, Canada as well as Mexico

Pa Sport Staff
Sunday 04 February 2024 21:55 GMT
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Diego Maradona’s Hand of God moment came in the Azteca Stadium
Diego Maradona’s Hand of God moment came in the Azteca Stadium (Bongarts/Getty Images)

The 2026 World Cup will kick off Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium on June 11, with the final at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey 38 days later, governing body Fifa has announced.

The showpiece event, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, will involve 48 teams for the first time.

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.

Fifa later confirmed the 2026 final will take place at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New York on July 19, which will see the tournament last a record total 39 days. The third-place play-off will be hosted in Miami.

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

There will be a total of 16 host cities, including Monterrey and Guadalajara elsewhere in Mexico.

Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle had all been named as the other host cities in the US, with Vancouver the other venue in Canada.

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 also a last-32 knockout round for the first time. In all, the new format will involve 104 matches being played.

Winners and runners-up in each of the 12 four-team groups will advance to a new round of 32, where they will be joined by the eight best third-placed teams.

The game’s global governing body had ditched plans for 16 three-team groups, acknowledging the “risk of collusion” in that format while also having been persuaded to stick with four-team groups after the drama which unfolded at the end of the group phase at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which was the last tournament to feature 32 teams.

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