First Touch

Mexico City to host 2026 FIFA World Cup Opener

Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca has been confirmed as the venue for the opening game of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. With 16 host cities across the nations of the US, Mexico and Canada, the iconic Estadio Azteca will be the ideal fervent backdrop for the tournament opener.

It will be the first World Cup to be co-hosted by three nations. It will also be the first FIFA World Cup to feature 48 teams, which explains why an unprecedented number of host cities will be needed in the summer of 2026.

The Estadio Azteca oozes FIFA World Cup heritage

azteca stadium Mexico City

Estadio Azteca was the venue for the FIFA World Cup final in 1986, where Diego Maradona and Argentina lifted their second World Cup trophy. The 87,523-seater stadium will become the only stadium to have hosted three FIFA World Cup tournaments, the first being in 1970 when Brazil pipped Italy to become world champions.

In the last decade, Estadio Azteca has undergone a string of renovations to futureproof this historic football arena. In 2015, the project was formally announced to coincide with the stadium’s 50th anniversary, as well as the centenary of Club America, who play their home games at the Azteca.

Since securing its role at the heart of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Mexico City has become increasingly attractive for other major events. In August 2024, it’s been confirmed that Mexico City will stage the second leg of the five-leg Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) 2024. It’s the first time the LAPT will stop in Mexico, in a bid to fuel even further passion for the game of poker in the Mexican capital. It’s made a real difference in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, with the high player fields at LAPT Rio De Janeiro encouraging the formation of the Brazil-specific, two-week-long BSOP Millions event.

Elsewhere in Mexico, the other two stadiums hosting 2026 FIFA World Cup games are based in Monterrey and Guadalajara. Estadio BBVA was opened in 2015, providing a futureproof arena for C.F. Monterrey, who had previously plied their trade at Estadio Tecnologico for over six decades. Nicknamed ‘The Steel Giant’, this 53,500-seater stadium is a stunning piece of architecture from the outside. From inside the stadium, it gets even better, with the magnificent backdrop of Cerro de la Silla, which is best seen at the north-western area of the ground.

Meanwhile the 49,813-seater Akron Stadium in Guadalajara is the third and final 2026 FIFA World Cup venue in Mexico. Home to Liga MX outfit, C.D. Guadalajara, Estadio Akron will stage some games in the opening group stage but won’t be utilised from the round of 32 onwards.

All you need to know about the 2026 FIFA World Cup

world cup trophy

The tournament will kick off in Mexico City on 11th June, 2026, with the final scheduled for 19th July, 2026. The final will be held at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The 39-day tournament makes the 2026 World Cup the longest in history.

With 48 teams set to compete at the 2026 World Cup instead of the usual 32, the tournament will have 104 games instead of the usual 64. Hence the need for three co-host nations to share the load. The format of the tournament will be largely the same, despite its expansion. There will be 12 groups of four teams. The top two of each group will automatically qualify for the last 32. Meanwhile eight of the best-performing third-placed teams will also secure a pass into the knockout stages.

From there on in, it will play out in the same format as past World Cups, with a knockout format all the way to the semi-finals and final. The US, Canada and Mexico will automatically qualify for the tournament as co-hosts. The US men’s national team will play their group games in Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington D.C. This is an exciting time for football in the CONCACAF region, especially in the US, where the Major League Soccer (MLS) is growing fast thanks to the arrival of iconic players such as David Beckham and Lionel Messi.

The published material expresses the position of the author, which may not coincide with the opinion of the editor.

Scroll to Top