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World Cup 2026: Who plays at Estadio Akron?

With the 2026 World Cup set to be played across the United States, Mexico and Canada, we are just over two years away from seeing the world’s best players play at some of the most iconic stadiums in North America.

Due to the popularity of American football on the continent, most of the stadiums that will feature are not primarily based around soccer. Estadio Akron is different though – let’s take a look at one of Mexico’s most iconic stadiums.

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Estadio Akron has been known by three different names in the 14 years it has been open. Photo : Avalon / Icon Sport

Who plays at Estadio Akron?

Estadio Akron is home to C.D. Guadalajara, one of the most successful football teams in Mexico. Having been formed in 1906, Guadalajara are one of ten founding members of the Primera División, now known as Liga MX.

They have won 12 league titles and finished runner-up in the 2010 Copa Libertadores, the joint-closest any Mexican team has come to winning South America’s most prestigious footballing tournament.

Similarly to Athletic Bilbao, the club does not sign non-Mexican players, instead relying on home-grown talent. This focus on their academy has brought through some tremendous footballers – Javier Hernández, Carlos Salcido and Carlos Vela all began their careers at the club.

Guadalajara are, in fact, the most popular team in Mexico – a 2016 study claimed that a whopping 44.1% of football fans in the country support them. 

What is Estadio Akron like?

Estadio Akron is in Zapopan, a city just to the west of Guadalajara. Despite having been announced in February 2004, various financial issues meant that construction on the stadium did not begin until May 2007, and was only completed in July 2010.

It cost $200 million to build and has a capacity of 46,355. Despite its short lifespan to date, the stadium has already had three different names. Until 2016 it was known as Estadio Omnilife, after which it was called Estadio Chivas for a year. Current name Estadio Akron comes from sponsors Akron, a Mexican energy company.

During the first couple of years that Estadio Akron was open, it drew lots of criticism for its artificial playing surface. Therefore, the turf was replaced with grass in July 2012.

What iconic matches have been played at Estadio Akron?

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Guadalajara fans wave the colours of their team. Photo : Avalon / Icon Sport

Outside of its use for Guadalajara’s home matches in Liga MX, Estadio Akron has also been used for various important games during the 14 years it has been open.

Perhaps the most important came in the first year that the stadium was open – when it hosted the first leg of Guadalajara’s Copa Libertadores final defeat at the hands of Internacional.

Adolfo Bautista gave the Mexican side the lead in that game, but Internacional turned the game around in the second half and won the first leg 2-1. They would go on to win the tie 5-3 on aggregate and lift the trophy.

Another of the most iconic matches in the stadium’s history came in the same year, when Guadalajara played Manchester United in the “Chicharito friendly”. Played on 30 July 2010 to celebrate Javier “Chicharito” Hernández’s move from his boyhood club to England, the striker played the first half for the Mexican club and the second for his new team. He scored in the first half for Guadalajara, who won 3-2.

In 2011, Estadio Akron hosted all football matches at the 2011 Pan American Games, as well as the event’s opening and closing ceremonies.

It has not just been limited to football either – on 6 May 2023, the stadium hosted the boxing match between Canelo Álvarez and John Ryder.

In line with FIFA’s sponsorship rules, the stadium will change its name to Estadio Guadalajara for the World Cup in 2026.

Jamie Barton

A freelance football writer and podcaster, Jamie has appeared on/in the BBC World Service, PA Media, Charlton Athletic FC and Empire of the Kop, among others. He's attended matches all around the world, from Tranmere to Tokyo, and once had his bus home from the 2022 Champions League final in Paris delayed by 28 hours.

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