MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. FIFA

FIFA has announced the full schedule for the 2026 Men's World Cup, which will be staged in three countries for the first time. The opening match will be played at the iconic Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, while the final will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The inaugural 48-team, three-nation Men's World Cup now has a packed schedule. Mexico's legendary Azteca Stadium will kick off the action on 11 June 2026, with New Jersey hosting the final after defeating Miami. 

FIFA announced the full 2026 World Cup schedule for Canada, the United States and Mexico in a live broadcast attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino. A total of 104 matches will be played, setting a new record for the world's premier football event as the number of teams increases from 32 to 48.

With this tournament, FIFA has doubled the number of participating teams in just 32 years, the last expansion being the 1994 FIFA World Cup, also in the United States, which featured 24 teams. 

The event also saw the announcement of the venue for the opening match, which will be played at the Azteca Stadium on Thursday 11 June. This historic venue has already hosted the world's best in 1970 and 1986, when Diego Armando Maradona captivated the world and secured Argentina's second World Cup title. 

In its first World Cup, the Mexican stadium witnessed the coronation of the world's greatest player at the time, Pele, aptly nicknamed 'O Rei' (meaning 'The King' in Portuguese).

Although it is unlikely due to his age, there is still a chance that the most prolific Ballon d'Or and FIFA award winner in history, Lionel Messi, will play. The "Tri", as the Mexican national football team is known, will open the tournament against a yet-to-be-announced opponent, as the hosts have not played an opening match since Germany 2006, when they were the defending champions. 

The third-place play-off will take place on Saturday 18 July at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. This historic multi-purpose venue will also be the epicentre of this year's Copa America final. The stadium, which seats over 65,000 and can be expanded by a further 10,000, was renovated in 2015 to host the NFL Super Bowl and other major events.

MetLife Stadium will host the grand final to crown the new monarch of world football, unless it is Argentina, the reigning champions of Qatar 2022, who will be looking for their fourth star in the United States.

It will be only the second time in 32 years that the USA have hosted the tournament, having gone all the way in 1994 when the final was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Los Angeles. 

Canada will be making their senior men's debut after hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015. Mexico, as previously mentioned, remain the only country to have organised three World Cups.

Host cities:

The United States will host 11 of the 16 World Cup venues: Seattle, San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York/New Jersey. 

Meanwhile, Mexico will play in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, while Canada will play in Vancouver and Toronto.

Tournament format:

The tournament consists of 48 teams divided into twelve groups of four. The top two teams in each group, plus the eight best third-placed teams, will advance to the Round of 16.

In other words, the new format means that teams will have to play eight matches to reach the final in New York on Sunday 19 July, one more than at the last FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022.