Following the release of 16 cities for the 2026 World Cup on Thursday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has warned Canada, Mexico and the United States to prepare for the football “invasion”.
The first edition of the World Cup, hosted by three different nations, will see the record number of participating teams as football returns to North America for the first time since the 1994 final, increasing the number from 32 to 48.
Of the 16 stadiums identified, 11 are in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada.
All U.S. matches will be played at American Football Clubs’ (NFL) grounds, with nominations for the final at the $ 5 billion “Sophie Stadium” or “Medlife” ground in Los Angeles. The New York team, the Giants with a seating capacity of 82,000, is based in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Sixty of the 80 matches in the final, including all play-offs starting in the quarterfinals, will be played at venues in the United States.
The famous “Azteca” stadium in Mexico City, which hosted the finals of the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, was added to the three Mexican stadiums, along with the cities of Montreal and Guadalajara.
Will host Canadian tournaments in Vancouver and Toronto.
Infantino, meanwhile, pointed out that the 2026 World Cup will surpass the 1994 final in the United States in all respects, which holds the record for most visits to the United States.
“The 2026 World Cup will be huge,” the Swiss-Italian said. I think this area does not know what will happen in 2026. All three countries will be reversed and reversed again. The world will capture Canada, Mexico and the United States. They will be overwhelmed by great waves of joy and happiness.
Part of the fan celebrations to announce the names of the host countries (AB)
Infantino is confident that the World Cup will promote further development of football in the region.
He added, “In this part of the world, you lead the world in many fields. But I am not yet a leader in football, the number one sport in the world. ” “The goal should be to lead the world in the world’s number one sport,” he added.
No decision has been made on the venues for important matches such as the World Cup final and opening match.
“We still need to discuss it and analyze it further,” Infantino said. We will take a decision in due course. ”
However, considering the vast geographical area in which the finals will be held across North America, some cities are 4,000 km away from each other, and FIFA wants to form teams in regional “groups” to reduce travel.
“When we deal with a large region like North America, we have to take care of the fans and make sure the teams play in groups so that the fans and the teams do not have to travel crazy distances,” he said. .
The list of American venues stretches from beach to beach, and includes several cities that hosted the 1994 World Cup.
Nevertheless, no stadium that hosted the tournament in 1994 will be on the list of venues for the 2026 World Cup.
Other sites include the Dallas Cowboys ‘largest AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the Miami Dolphins’ hard rock stadium in Florida. Seven of the 11 stadiums named Thursday have previously hosted the “Super Bowl” final in American football.
Arrowhead Stadium for Kansas City Chiefs, one of the quietest stadiums in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, is one of the selected venues.
Also on the list were NFL stadiums in Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Boston and Philadelphia.
However, Washington DC did not find a place on the list. That means the 2026 final will be the first World Cup final since 1974, and was held in West Germany at the time, not including the host country’s capital.
Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief matches and events official, acknowledged Washington’s absence after the “incredibly competitive” nomination process.
“It was a very difficult choice,” Smith said. It is hard to imagine the World Cup coming to the United States and the capital not playing a major role.
Smith, meanwhile, noted that minor changes would be needed to expand “pressure points” at some NFL venues, but would not affect the stadium’s efficiency.
“The number of fans enjoying this World Cup will be more than double what we had before,” he said. The 1994 World Cup record has been set, but it will not be. “