The winner of the next World Cup will be decided in the swamps of New Jersey.
FIFA today announced that the 2026 FIFA World Cup Final will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with the stadium set to host eight of the tournament’s 104 total matches.
It’s good news for Tri-State Area soccer fans, who will have ample opportunity to attend some of the highest-stakes matches of the next FIFA World Cup. In addition to the Final, MetLife Stadium will also be the venue for a match in each of the Round of 32 and Round of 16.
The World Cup kicks off with an opening match featuring co-host nation Mexico at Mexico City’s legendary Estadio Azteca on June 11, then the curtain falls on the tournament at the final at MetLife Stadium on July 19.
Definitive word on MetLife Stadium being the FIFA World Cup Final venue arrived during a cringe-inducing live telecast on FOX that featured FIFA president Gianni Infantino, comedian Kevin Hart, and Kim Kardashian, as well as some actual soccer players and coaches. Infantino delivered the news standing in front of a green screen while dressed in all beige, seemingly trying his best to downplay his innate James Bond villain characteristics.
The news of MetLife Stadium hosting the final comes as something of a surprise, as the enormous Texas home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, was considered by many to be the heavy favorite to serve as World Cup Final venue.
Instead, the stadium dubbed “Jerry World” after Cowboys owner/operator Jerry Jones, will settle for the consolation prize of hosting the most total matches, nine, during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
While AT&T Stadium is vast and modern and brimming with FIFA-friendly luxury suites, it has limited public transportation accessibility and is dwarfed by the New Jersey-New York area as an urban hub for travelers, be they domestic or international.
As you can see in that above embedded announcement post on Twitter (never X), FIFA has gone all-in on the “New York New Jersey” framing for where it will hold its 2026 World Cup Final.
Let’s dispense with the ambiguities: The match is taking place in the state of New Jersey. As others have correctly pointed out, New York and New Jersey joined forces to bid for the 2026 World Cup Final, and acted essentially as co-applicants, but we shouldn’t try to pretend that MetLife Stadium is located anywhere but on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.
Who will be playing at MetLife Stadium during this World Cup in two years? It won’t be the United States men’s national team, at least not during the group stages—all USMNT group matches will be held on the West Coast, with two at Los Angeles’s SoFi Stadium, and one in the American soccer hotbed that is the Pacific Northwest, at Seattle’s Lumen Field.
You may be wondering as you read this: Aren’t all the American football stadiums we’re mentioning as FIFA World Cup venues, also places with artificial turf playing surfaces?
Fear not, natural grass is mandated by FIFA and is set to be installed at any World Cup playing venue that doesn’t normally have it for the 2026 tournament. So that MetLife Stadium playing surface, maligned by many NFL players and pundits, will be a temporary grass setup, not the FieldTurf that has occasionally wreaked havoc during Giants and Jets games.
The field of competing 2026 teams isn’t anywhere close to set, and that field will be bigger than ever during the next tournament. There will be 48 teams in the 2026 World Cup split between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, meaning there will be a knockout Round of 32 for the first time ever, and the total number of matches played will increase by 40, from 64 in 2022 to 104 in 2026.
To become a World Cup winner, a nation will now have to play eight matches, up from the seven it’s taken to win the cup since 1974.
What might it cost you to see the next World Cup winner crowned in person on July 19, 2026? Tickets for the 2022 World Cup Final in Qatar, which saw Lionel Messi and Argentina triumph over reigning champions France, ranged anywhere from $200-$1,500 a piece according to Goal.com.
The sky really might be the limit for 2026 FIFA World Cup Final ticket prices, given the number of likely would-be attendees who reside in the Tri-State Area, or who could easily travel to it.
Thankfully, fans have a bunch of other non-Final opportunities to see the World Cup at MetLife Stadium. The 82,500-seat stadium will also host group stage matches on June 13, June 16, June 22, June 25, and June 27—followed by a Round of 32 match on June 30 and a Round of 16 match on July 5.
It’s been almost 30 years since the World Cup was last held in the Tri-State Area, as Giants Stadium played host to seven matches during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, including a memorable semifinal between Italy and Bulgaria that saw a brace from Italian star Roberto Baggio send the Azzurri into the Final to face eventual champions Brazil.
Now that hosting plans and match dates have been formally announced, the local New York-area fans can start anticipating another memorable, historic soccer summer when the 2026 FIFA World Cup comes to town.