Where will the 2026 World Cup be held, how many teams will play and what is the format?


A aerial view of MetLife Stadium during the national anthem with a 100 yard American flag before the start of the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets on September 11, 2016

The MetLife Stadium in New Jersey will host the 2026 World Cup final – USA Today Sports/William Hauser

The Qatar World Cup was the first winter edition of the competition and Argentina were winners after a remarkable final against France.

The next instalment of the World Cup will also break new ground as it is hosted by three countries, as well as being expanded to include 48 teams.

Here is what we know so far.

Where will the next World Cup take place?

In a tournament first, the World Cup will be held across three host countries – the United States, Canada and Mexico – after the North American trio’s bid fended off a strong proposal from Morocco.

The matches will be played across 16 cities – 11 from the US, two in Canada and three in Mexico. The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will all be held in the States.

Here is the list of cities that will be hosting at least one World Cup match.

  • Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Guadalajara, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Monterrey, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver.

The MetLife Stadium in New Jersey will host the final on July 19, 2026. The venue has a capacity of 82,500.

The semi-finals will be held at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, while the quarter-finals will be at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Miami will also host the third-place play-off.

Mexico will open the tournament on June 11 with their first group match at the iconic Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

The USA will begin their campaign at the SoFi in LA on June 12 and will remain on the West Coast for the group stage, with two matches in Seattle. Canada will play their opening match in Toronto also on June 12.

Canada and Mexico are also guaranteed to play all their group matches on home soil, with Guadalajara and Vancouver also hosting.

To limit the travel of teams and fans, the three host countries have been broken down into east, central and west regions, where teams will be based for the group stage.

When is the next World Cup?

The opening match will take place on June 11, when Mexico kick off at the legendary Azteca Stadium (which will become the first stadium to host three World Cup openers) and the last of the 104 matches will be contested when the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey hosts the final on on July 19.

The full fixture list and kick-off times will be confirmed following the final draw, which is expected to be towards the end of 2025.

How many teams will be at the 2026 World Cup and what is the format?

The 2026 World Cup will be contested by 48 teams rather than the usual 32.

Fifa said the decision to expand will increase participation and provide “more opportunities for footballers around the whole world”.

Fifa initially said there would be 16 groups of three teams, with the top two from each group advancing to a knockout round of 32.

However, it reconsidered this stance and will instead start with 12 groups of four with the top two teams and the eight best third-placed teams qualifying for the round of 32. Under this format there will be 104 games in total.

How can I get tickets?

Fans can pre-register for tickets at fifa.com/tickets.

How does Fifa decide on the host nation?

The host nation is decided by a bidding process. Fifa takes a number of factors into account when deciding which country, or countries, will play host. Many of these criteria are around available infrastructure including stadium capacities, fan accommodation, transport systems as well as facilities for the teams and referees.

What about the 2030 and 2034 World Cups?

The 2030 World Cup will be held across six countries and three continents. Spain, Portugal and Morocco are the co-hosts but the first three matches of the tournament will be held in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.

Fifa says the continent-hopping event will be a celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the World Cup. The inaugural edition, in 1930, was held in Uruguay.

The official announcement about the host countries for 2030 is expected in May 2024, at the Fifa congress in Thailand.

The bidding process for the 2034 tournament has also started, although Fifa says only bids from Asia or Oceania will be considered. Saudi Arabia intend to bid and are likely to be the front-runners.

This article is kept updated with the latest information.

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