July 22 – FIFA has said it will announce the venues for the final of the 2026 World Cup and match schedule for the 2026 World Cup on Sunday February 4.
The full schedule of matches and cities will not be released but venue for the final will be as well as the tournament’s opening matches in Canada, Mexico and the USA, as well the group stage locations for each host country’s national team will be.
The process of venue allocation has fuelled a huge media and political race in the US, particularly around the allocation for the final..
The battle for the final has seen two clear favourites emerge – the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – both committing to multi-million dollar projects to woo FIFA’s decision makers. The SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles was an early favourite for the final but appears to have been dropped when the owner Stan Kroenke threatened to pull his stadium out altogether over FIFA’s failure to engage over the match rights and commercial preparation.
The MetLife Stadium, which media reports was leading the race for the final and is believed to be FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s preferred location, said it is planning to remove 1,740 seats to widen its pitch to meet the full-size 75-yard width that FIFA demands. Stadium capacity would be reduced to about 80,000.
The AT&T Stadium has a similar pitch width problem but plans to overcome that by raising the pitch level by 15 feet to create the extra width which would reduce stadium capacity from about 105,000 to 90,000.
Both the MetLife and the AT&T will have to replace artificial turf pitches with grass.
FIFA said the announcement will be made via a special live broadcast starting at 3pm (eastern time) on Sunday, 4 February 2024 and that it “will include host city match allocations for the 104 matches of the tournament in 2026, as well as the locations of key matches, including the biggest showpiece match, the FIFA World Cup 26 final.”
The interest in the announcement can be seen by the host country broadcast commitments to an announcement that would usually be made as a straightforward press release – now it is a TV spectacle.
TSN, CTV and RDS platforms will broadcast in Canada, Televisa in Mexico, and FOX and Telemundo in the USA. FIFA will also use its own digital and social platforms, including FIFA+ in markets where the rights have not been sold.
Mexico is hosting a World Cup for a record third time (it hosted in 1970 and 1986), the US is hosting for a second time after 1994, while Canada is hosting for a first time.
The cities that will stage the matches are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Guadalajara, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Monterrey, New York New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.
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