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Essential World Cup 2026 dates: Opening game, final, ticket sales, draw and everything football fans need to know

Following on from Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina’s World Cup success in Qatar 2022, the next edition of the showpiece international football tournament is set to be the biggest and boldest ever.

There will be more nations, more games, and almost certainly more goals when the action gets underway, across three host nations. 

The 2026 World Cup will take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

This tri-nation bid to host the 23rd edition of the World Cup triumphed over Morocco following the outcome at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow in 2018, by 134 votes to 65. Amongst the members, there were three abstentions and one vote for neither of the bids.

Here is all the key info that you need…

The FIFA World Cup trophy | The World Cup 2026 dates are yet to be revealed, but we know the final will be on the 19 July 2026
Photo by Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA/Icon Sport

Is the 2026 World Cup in summer or winter?

Following the anomaly for most of a winter World Cup, as was the case with Qatar in 2022, the tournament returns to a more familiar summer slot for 2026.

The World Cup will take place in the US, Canada, and Mexico across June and July.

World Cup 2026 dates: Undefined date in June to 19 July

We are awaiting the official World Cup 2026 dates from FIFA, with some major logistical issues to sort out first. However, the stadiums have been chosen and the date for the 2026 World Cup final was announced, back in March 2023, as the 19 July.

FIFA now need to decide when the tournament's start date will be, but a decision on that is expected before the end of 2023.

Have the nations previously hosted a World Cup?

Mexico will have its moment again, following on from 1970 and 1986. It will become the first country to host the men's World Cup three times, which is a fine accolade.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas | Potential 2026 World Cup final stadium and one of 11 2026 World Cup host cities in the USA
Mexico are hosting their third World Cup | Photo by Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA/Icon Sport

The USA will be the first nation to host both the men's and women's World Cups twice, following on from the senior men's competition in 1994, and the women's in 1999 and 2003.

Canada will have the honour of co-hosting the men’s World Cup for the first time, having hosted the Women's World Cup back in 2015.

When will the 2026 World Cup draw be made?

We've barely begun qualification yet, so it won't be for a while. The World Cup draw is normally made between six and nine months prior to the tournament.

Ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the draw took place on 1 December 2017.

Prior to the Qatar edition in December 2022, the draw was completed on 1 April 2022.

So, expect the draw for the 2026 World Cup to take place at the end of 2025.

World Cup 2026 dates | June to 19 July
The backdrop will be similar when the 2026 World Cup draw takes place in late 2025 | Photo by Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA/Icon sport

How many teams will be at the World Cup 2026?

A change of format for the next World Cup will see an increase from 32 to a massive 48 nations taking part in the final tournament, meaning a lot more football to be played.

How many games will be played at the 2026 World Cup?

One hundred and four matches will take place, a significant increase from 64, the number of games played since France 1998.

What other changes to the format?

There have been some significant alterations made to the usual World Cup format.

Sixteen host cities will provide the backdrop for the tournament consisting of the 48 participating nations split into 12 groups of 4 teams. As usual, the top two will progress to the knockout stages but the best third-place sides will also qualify for the new round of 32, due to the increase in numbers.

Where are the 2026 World Cup host cities?

With the bidding process completed, the 16 host cities are now confirmed. Across the three host nations, the logistics have been split into three geographical locations: west, central, and east.  The US has 11 host locations, two are in Canada and three in Mexico.

West Region

BC Place, Vancouver: 54,500
Lumen Field, Seattle: 69,000 (expandable to 72,000)
Levi's Stadium, San Francisco Bay Area: 68,500 (expandable to 75,000)
Estadio Akron, Guadelajara: 49,850
SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles: 70,240 (expandable to 100,240)

Central Region

Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City: 76,416
AT&T Stadium, Dallas: 80,000 (potentially 105,000)
NRG Stadium, Houston: 72,220 (expandable to 80,000)
Estadio BBVA, Monterrey: 53,500 (Bid book: 53,460)
Estadio Azteca, Mexico City: 87,523
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta: 71,000 (expandable to 83,000)

Estadio Azteca | Host of the 1986 World Cup Final and host city for the 2026 World Cup
The Estadio Azteca, famous for hosting the 1986 World Cup final, is a host stadium once again for the 2026 World Cup, but will not host the final | Photo by Michel Barrault/Onze/Icon Sport

East Region

BMO Field, Toronto: 30,000 (expanding to 45,500)
Gillette Stadium, Boston: 68,878
MetLife Stadium, New York/New Jersey: 82,500
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia: 69,796
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami: 64,767 (Bid book: 67,518)

How can I get tickets for the 2026 World Cup?

At this early stage, with over two-and-a-half years until the tournament takes place, there is no option to purchase tickets yet.

However, FIFA has released preliminary information on how to apply for 2026 World Cup tickets and you can register your interest on the FIFA website.

Who has qualified for the World Cup in 2026?

At this point, only the hosts (USA, Canada, Mexico) have qualified with all of the other confederations still to complete their qualifying stages.

Graeme Hanna

A long-term Rangers season-ticket holder and switched-on football writer with a passion for fan culture, Graeme Hanna is a freelance writer who has featured in titles such as The Rangers Review, Glasgow Evening News and Give Me Sport, as well as having a long association with Follow Follow fanzine. He joined Football Ground Guide in September 2023 and stated that Juan Roman Riquelme is the best opposition player that he has seen at Ibrox. Graeme experienced a 36 hour supporters bus journey from Glasgow to Florence for the 2008 UEFA Cup semi-final and has attended games in several European counties with a particular interest in German fan culture.

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