With 2-year countdown to 2026 World Cup underway, Infantino anticipates another ‘greatest’

June 11 – The two year countdown to the 2026 World Cup kick-off at the Estadio Azteca Mexico City on June 11 has begun, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino continuing his ‘greatest’ theme saying the finals would be “the greatest event, the greatest show, the greatest tournament”.

Qatar 2022 was the ‘greatest ever’ World Cup according to Infantino, and that followed his previous ‘greatest’ of 2018. The adjective is certainly being over-used but the World Cup are certainly hitting new high marks in terms of commercial performance and global engagement, even if the quality of the play is not always the greatest.

2026 will be the biggest ever World Cup, with 48 teams, up from 32, hosted in 16 cities across three countries for the first time – Canada, Mexico and the USA.

“I am counting down the days, definitely. Like everyone else. Two years seems far away, but we know it is very, very close,” said Infantino, standing alongside the World Cup.

“In two years from now, the world will stand still and watch what is happening in North America. The trophy is already here, ready – we take care of it – and we are all getting ready, gearing up for the competition, preparing everything.”

The Estadio Azteca Mexico City will make history at the tournament, having also hosted the opening matches of the FIFA World Cup in 1970 and 1986,” continued Infantino.

“It will be the first stadium to host three inaugural (FIFA) World Cup football matches,” said the FIFA President. “We’ve never seen this before, and to experience it at an iconic stadium like the Azteca is something very, very special. We all know the epic games, (FIFA) World Cup games, that have been played there in the past, absolute champions like Pelé and Diego Maradona who played and won at the Azteca.”

The World Cup there is no local recognisable organising committee with FIFA having moved from Zurich, or in the process of staffing up, a large Miami office to run the 2026 finals.

FIFA has met with criticism locally that it is slow off the mark with its organisation and there have been issues with a number of bidding cities that have required behind-the-scenes diplomacy to resolve.

He added: “Every day, there are events which are being planned, which are taking place, be it with the authorities, be it with our partners, the sponsors, the broadcasters.”

Qualifying for 2026 is already underway in Asia, Oceania, Africa and South America (though there are so many berths for Conmebol in relation to their number of members it seem barely worth bothering) and Concacaf.

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