2026 World Cup final will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey

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The 2026 World Cup final will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on July 19.

FIFA made the announcement Sunday at a Miami television studio, allocating the opener of the 39-day tournament to Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on June 11.

Semifinals will be played on July 14 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the following day at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Quarterfinals will be at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on July 9, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, the following day, and at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on July 11. The third-place game will be at Hard Rock on July 18.

The U.S. team will train in suburban Atlanta ahead of the tournament and at SoFi on June 12, the Americans play seven days later at Seattle’s Lumen Field and finish the group stage at SoFi on June 25.

Seventy-eight of 104 matches of the first World Cup spread over three nations will be played in the United States.

AT&T, which had hopes to present the final, will host a tournament-high nine matches. There will be eight each at MetLife, SoFi and Mercedes Benz; seven apiece at Hard Rock, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and NRG Stadium in Houston; and six apiece at Lumen, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

FIFA officials did not publicly explain their site-decision process.

Philadelphia’s final match will be a round-of-16 meeting on July 4, the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park hosts baseball’s All-Star Game, likely on July 14.

Santa Clara is the only U.S. site that will not host a game after the round of 32.

FIFA expanded the World Cup from 32 to 48 nations and increased matches from 64 to 104. The 2026 tournament will be co-hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada, with all games from the quarterfinals on being played in the U.S. FIFA announced the 16 sites in 2022.

Mexico will play its second match at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey on June 18 and return to Azteca on June 24. Mexico City will host five matches, with four each in Monterrey and Guadalajara’s Estadio Akron.

Canada will play its opening first-round match in Toronto on June 12, then its following two games in B.C. Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 18 and 24. Each Canada venue will host 13 games.

A nation will need to play eight matches to win the title, up from seven since 1982.

All 11 of the U.S. stadiums are home to NFL teams. Hard Rock will host this year’s Copa América final on July 14, while MetLife was the site of the 2016 Copa América final.

Both the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals were at Azteca.

When the U.S. hosted the 24-nation, 52-game tournament in 1994, the final was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the opener at Chicago’s Soldier Field and the semifinals at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford and the Rose Bowl.

With the additional teams, the length of the tournament will grow from 29 days in the shortened 2022 schedule in Qatar and 32 days for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Only one match will involve a team that has not had at least three off days. FIFA divided the group stage into East, Central and West regions and intended to make travel shorter for group winners.

The stadiums in Arlington, Atlanta and Houston have retractable roofs that are expected to be closed because of summer heat, and Inglewood and Vancouver have fixed roofs.

Artificial turf will be replaced by grass in Arlington, Atlanta, East Rutherford, Foxborough, Houston, Inglewood and Vancouver.

Several of the venues are expected to widen their surfaces to accommodate a 75-by-115 yard (68-by-105 meter) playing field, including AT&T and MetLife.

FIFA did not announce kickoff times. The 1994 championship started at 12:30 p.m. PDT (3:30 p.m. EDT and 9:30 p.m. in Central Europe) but the start has been moved up in recent years as Asia’s television market become more significant to FIFA. The 2022 final in Qatar started at 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT, 4 p.m. in Central Europe and 10 p.m. in Beijing).

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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