Sunday, June 23, 2024

Estadio Azteca in Mexico City will host first match of 2026 World Cup

The opening match of the men’s World Cup soccer tournament in 2026 will take place at the Estadio Azteca (Aztec Stadium) in Mexico City, the sport’s ruling body announced on Sunday.

The schedule released by the International Association Football Federation (FIFA) revealed that group-stage matches from June 11-27, 2026 will start in Mexico and that the final on July 19 will be at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Azteca
Mexico City’s iconic Estadio Azteca will play host to a third FIFA World Cup. (Cuartoscuro)

The June 11 opening match will pit Mexico’s national team against a to-be-determined opponent; Mexico receives an automatic bid to play as a host nation.

The tournament will expand to 48 teams in 2026, and for the first time, it will be jointly hosted by three countries: Mexico, the United States and Canada. Teams and matchups won’t be determined until the qualifying process is completed over the next 14 months.

Guadalajara will host four group-stage matches at Akron Stadium in Zapopan, Jalisco, while Mexico City and Monterrey (BBVA Stadium) will each host three matches in the group stage. The first Guadalajara match will be on June 11, 2026, the same day as the first Mexico City match.

The granting of the opening game to Mexico City was a nice nod to the nation’s soccer heritage Mexico previously hosted World Cups in 1970 and 1986 — meaning Aztec Stadium will become the first venue ever to stage matches in three different World Cups. The legendary stadium now seats about 83,000 after being scaled back from 105,000.

Mexican fans at World Cup 2022
The 2026 World Cup games in Mexico are sure to sell out fast when they go on sale in 2025. (Photo: Archive)

Matches will begin June 12 in the United States at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and in Canada at BMO Field in Toronto.

The knockout stage, which will begin on June 28 with a record field of 32 teams, will include one game each in Monterrey (June 29) and Mexico City (June 30).

Mexico City will host one more game, on July 5, a round-of-16 battle to determine one of the teams in the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals and beyond will be contested on U.S. soil.

In all, there will be a record 104 matches held throughout the three nations, with 13 in Mexico, 13 in Vancouver and Toronto, and the rest in the United States. Sixteen stadiums will host games.

The Mexican national team will play two matches in Mexico City (June 11 and 24) and one in Guadalajara (June 18), FIFA announced.

The last men’s World Cup was Qatar 2022, where Mexico was eliminated after a 0-0 tie vs. Poland, a 2-0 loss to eventual champion Argentina and a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia. It marked the first time since 1978 that Mexico failed to advance to the knockout round.

With reports from Forbes and USA Today

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