It has been almost five years since a bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico beat out a proposal from Morocco to host soccer’s 2026 men’s World Cup. Now the competition has turned intramural.
The stadiums for the tournament have been chosen, but FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, has not yet said which one will host the final game.
Officials from New York City and New Jersey are starting a concerted push to land that final for MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands, including an event in Times Square on Thursday morning with Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Mayor Eric Adams of New York.
“Eric and I believe strongly that we have the most compelling case by far to get the best package, including the final,” Murphy said in a joint interview with Adams on Wednesday morning.
At most other World Cups, there is an obvious choice for the final game. Moscow, Rio de Janeiro and Paris were always going to be chosen when their countries hosted the tournament. But there are several attractive candidates for the 2026 final, to be played July 19. (Though Mexico and Canada will host some of the tournament’s 104 games, the bidders agreed that the majority of the matches — and everything from the quarterfinals on — would be in the United States.)
The only previous time the United States hosted the World Cup, in 1994, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., got the final. This time, SoFi Stadium is the Los Angeles-area site on the list of stadiums for 2026. But that stadium was built primarily for N.F.L. football, and there is concern that the field there is too narrow for soccer, which would require removing some seats, and reducing capacity.
Dallas has also emerged as a leading candidate, in part because nearby AT&T Stadium can potentially be expanded to offer over 100,000 seats for soccer.
But Adams and Murphy are making their case that the New York City area outshines those places as the best spot for the game.
“Yes, L.A. is known for its extravaganza and its appeal of Hollywood,” Adams said. “But I think New York is the largest stage.”
Murphy said: “New York is the international capital of the world. With no disrespect to Dallas, we’re taking about New York.”
The other contenders are not lying down. “We are making our case to the committee right now that we would be the perfect site for the semifinals and finals,” Dan Hunt, president of Dallas’s bid, told the local NBC affiliate late last year. “We have two great airports, we have the infrastructure, we have the hotels, we have AT&T Stadium. We have what it will take to host what I call ‘the Super Bowl on steroids.’”
Kathryn Schloessman, head of the Los Angeles bid, said, “Our region is so fortunate to have a world-class stadium and infrastructure to be in consideration for hosting the final and other prominent matches.”
The decision will ultimately be made by top FIFA officials, up to and including President Gianni Infantino, with input from the regional governing body, Concacaf, and U.S. Soccer. It is expected in early fall.
Whether the New York region wins the final or not, there are likely to be about eight games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. “Eight games is like eight Super Bowls in six weeks, so no matter what the games look like it’s going to be a huge success,” Murphy said. “We’ll sell every one of them out; it doesn’t matter who’s playing.”
“But clearly to get the final — and we think we’re in the best position to get the final — is the icing on the cake that is almost unparalleled in sports,” he added. “There is both prestige and I’m sure an extra boost to the regional economy.”
If a “huge success” is coming either way, why is there such a hunger to land the final? Adams acknowledged another motivation: “I’m extremely competitive, and I want to beat other cities to have the final. We were chosen, now it’s time for us to bring home the Cup.”