Where will 2026 World Cup final go? A "luxury problem" FIFA must sort

Thursday brought news of 16 cities that’ll host 2026 FIFA World Cup games across the United States, Mexico and Canada – a highly-anticipated development sorted into three regions for the North American soccer celebration.

But another pressing question is already front and center: Four years from now, who will host the final?

FIFA’s leadership didn’t have concrete answers at a media event in New York City that followed the big reveal, but there’s certainly no shortage of options in their view.

“This is really a luxury problem to some extent that we have,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said. “This is probably unique to this part of the world. We have some cities in North America which are not just … important cities in America, but are world, global capitals.

“All of these cities have their pros and cons and if we play a final in New York/New Jersey, it would be a fantastic final. If it is in Los Angeles, it would be a fantastic final. If it is in Miami, it would be a fantastic final. Anywhere in any of these cities, it will be a great final, in Dallas, in Atlanta, anywhere. I should mention all 16.”

A World Cup final is arguably the most anticipated sporting occasion every four years, not to mention its memorable qualities. It’s something North America has hosted on three prior occasions, too, with the 1970 and 1986 editions both held at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca and the 1994 version held at Los Angeles’ infamous Rose Bowl.

As fans sit and wait, much deliberation and schedule-related items are being sorted behind the scenes.

“We haven't even started that process yet,” said Concacaf president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani. “We've been laboring the last four years with venue visits to get to this point. There will be a whole 'nother process to pick, and it's not just the final.

“There are a lot of big matches, knockout matches, the opening match, obviously the final. So it's not just that and there's a bit of a domino effect as well when you look at it. The match schedule, it's being worked on. It's probably on version 88 already just because there's so many movements.”

As for criteria that will be considered, Infantino rattled off weather, stadium capacity and infrastructure as areas they’ll consider. Montagliani also pointed to the distance traveled for finalists, looking to reduce airplane miles to maintain competitive levels.

Whatever the outcome is four years from now, when 48 teams from six confederations descend on the region, Infantino is setting a high bar for the first time three countries co-host a World Cup.

“Wherever we go with the final, it will be the best final ever,” the Swiss-Italian executive said.

It'll be a massive event that caps a joint bid from the US, Mexico and Canada that was first certified in June 2018 at FIFA's annual congress.

"Today, the World Cup has 64 matches," Infantino said. "We often say it's like 64 Super Bowls in terms of audience. The World Cup '26 has 80 Super Bowls, 80 incredible games, 80 finals and we must sure that they are played in the best conditions in every city."