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Countdown to the 2026 FIFA World Cup: 10 things you need to know!

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As the countdown to the world cup 2026 begins, soccer fans everywhere are eagerly anticipating the next edition of the biggest sporting event in the world. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first-ever hosted by three countries: the United States, Mexico, and Canada. With just over five years until the tournament kicks off, here are ten things you need to know about the 2026 World Cup.

1) The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be held in North America
For the first time in its history, the FIFA World Cup will be hosted by three countries – Canada, Mexico and the United States. It’s expected to be the biggest and most watched World Cup yet, with an expanded 48-team format being introduced for this tournament.
Mexico will be hosting the majority of the matches, with 10 games taking place on their soil. Meanwhile, Canada will be playing host to four matches, and the United States will host 60 matches – including all games from the quarter-finals onwards.
This marks a significant milestone for North American soccer fans, as well as providing a great opportunity for fans from other nations to visit and experience the vibrant culture of this continent. As such, FIFA is expecting ticket sales to be high for this tournament, with tickets going on sale in early 2020.
The tournament will also see the use of video assistant referees (VAR) for the first time. This technology is expected to reduce the number of incorrect calls during matches, providing a fairer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.
To mark this historic event, FIFA has announced that an official mascot will be named ‘Zakumi’. It remains to be seen what this lovable character will look like when it is unveiled later this year!
All three countries are expected to automatically qualify for the tournament, which should provide further motivation for teams to perform well in their qualifying campaigns.
The final match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup will take place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, USA. It’s sure to be an electrifying occasion and a fitting end to an incredible tournament.
The countdown is on for the 2026 FIFA World Cup: get ready for a summer of football like no other!

2) It will be the first World Cup with an expanded 48-team format
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will mark a historical milestone in the tournament’s history as it will be the first time that the number of participating teams is increased from 32 to 48. This expansion will see the competition span across three countries: Mexico, Canada, and the United States. The introduction of an additional 16 teams to the tournament means that fans can expect to witness even more exciting matchups and unexpected results.
The new format for the tournament will be structured differently, with 16 groups consisting of three teams each competing in round-robin style matches. The top two teams from each group will advance to a round of 32 knockout stage. This will mean more matches, more excitement and more unpredictability throughout the competition.
Moreover, the expanded format will allow many more nations to participate in the tournament and will give smaller nations a chance to shine on a world stage. The expansion of the tournament to 48 teams is expected to increase participation of teams from South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
Ultimately, with an expanded 48-team format, we are certain that the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be an unprecedented success and one of the most memorable tournaments in history!

3) Canada, Mexico, and the United States will jointly host the tournament
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first to be hosted across three countries: Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It will also mark the first World Cup to feature an expanded 48-team format.
In total, Canada will host four games during the tournament while Mexico will host ten. The remaining 60 matches, including all games from the quarter-finals onwards, will take place in the United States. As a result, it will become the largest World Cup ever held, with 80 matches in total.
The three host countries are expected to automatically qualify for the tournament, as per FIFA rules. This means that all three countries will receive a guaranteed spot in the tournament, regardless of their qualification performance.
As part of the preparations for the tournament, each country is expected to make major investments in infrastructure, particularly stadium construction. In addition, the tournament’s official mascot – ‘Zakumi’ – was recently unveiled.
Tickets for the 2026 FIFA World Cup are set to go on sale in early 2020, and with such a unique event on the horizon, fans around the world will be eager to get their hands on them.

4) The United States will host 60 matches, including all games from the quarter-finals onwards
The United States is one of the three countries set to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and it will be hosting the most matches – 60 in total. This will include every game from the quarter-finals onwards, meaning that the semifinal, third place match, and final will all be hosted in the U.S. This is exciting news for American soccer fans, as the U.S. has not hosted a World Cup since 1994, when the tournament was held in nine venues across the country.
The U.S. venues for the 2026 World Cup have yet to be announced, but the stadiums chosen are expected to have a minimum capacity of 80,000. It’s also likely that some of the games in the knockout rounds (the quarter-finals and beyond) will be held at larger stadiums with a capacity of at least 90,000. The final match of the 2026 World Cup will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
In total, three countries (Canada, Mexico, and the United States) will jointly host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. It will be the first World Cup to use an expanded 48-team format, and it will also be the first to use video assistant referees (VAR). Tickets for the tournament will go on sale in early 2020, with all three countries expected to automatically qualify for the tournament.

5) Mexico will host 10 matches, while Canada will host 4
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will mark a significant moment in the history of football, as it will be the first World Cup with an expanded 48-team format. Three countries—Mexico, Canada, and the United States—will jointly host the tournament, each with their own responsibilities for hosting matches.
Mexico will host 10 matches during the 2026 FIFA World Cup, making it the second-highest number of matches amongst the three nations. This includes all the round of 16 games, plus four Group Stage matches and two matches from the quarter-finals.
Canada, on the other hand, will host 4 matches, which includes two Group Stage matches and two Round of 16 games. This is significantly lower than Mexico’s hosting quota, but still an important role in the tournament.
Both Mexico and Canada will benefit from the additional infrastructure built up around the World Cup. In addition to providing a venue for some of the most anticipated matches in world football, it will also provide a platform for both countries to showcase their culture and hospitality to the world.

6) All three countries are expected to automatically qualify for the tournament
The United States, Mexico, and Canada are all slated to qualify automatically for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. As the tournament will be hosted jointly in North America, all three countries are granted automatic entry into the tournament. This is a significant change from previous World Cups, where teams had to qualify through regional tournaments.
The United States will be automatically seeded into Group A as host nation. The other two countries, Mexico and Canada, will also be automatically seeded into the tournament, however their exact groupings are yet to be determined.
The automatic qualification of North America’s trio of countries is not only an exciting prospect for fans, but also a major boost for the sport in the region. It presents an opportunity to showcase the region’s footballing talent on the global stage, and could be a major catalyst for the further growth of football in the region.

7) The 2026 World Cup will be the first to use video assistant referees (VAR)
In an effort to make the game of soccer more fair, FIFA has decided to implement video assistant referees (VAR) at the 2026 World Cup. VAR is a system that uses technology and multiple video angles to help referees make accurate calls during a match. It can be used to review a wide range of decisions including goals, red cards, and penalty decisions.
This system has been tested in various leagues and competitions around the world over the past few years. It has already been used in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as well as major competitions such as the Champions League and the Europa League.
At the 2026 World Cup, VAR will be used to review any decisions that are challenged by either team. The system will also have access to all available camera angles, so no aspect of a decision will be missed. This is expected to result in fewer wrong decisions being made by referees during matches, which should make for fairer play.
Overall, the implementation of VAR at the 2026 FIFA World Cup should be seen as a positive step for the game of soccer. It will help referees make accurate decisions during matches and ensure that justice is served.

8) The official mascot of the tournament will be named ‘Zakumi’
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will have a special mascot – and its name is Zakumi! The name Zakumi was chosen to reflect the tournament’s spirit of unity and friendship. Zakumi is a leopard, chosen because of its powerful symbolism: just as leopards are strong and resilient animals, the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be a powerful event that will bring people together from all over the world.
The mascot is designed to bring energy and enthusiasm to the tournament. Zakumi will make an appearance at stadiums, fan events, and other festivities around the tournament. He has been designed to engage with children and adults alike.
Zakumi also has his own website where fans can find out more about him, as well as learn about the 2026 FIFA World Cup. So get ready to meet Zakumi as you count down to the 2026 FIFA World Cup!

9) Tickets for the tournament will go on sale in early 2020
With the 2026 FIFA World Cup quickly approaching, fans all over the world are eagerly anticipating the chance to attend this historic event. While the tournament is still several years away, there is one important date that you should know – tickets will go on sale in early 2020!
It is estimated that over two million tickets will be available for purchase, giving fans plenty of opportunities to experience the 2026 FIFA World Cup in person. Ticket prices will vary depending on the match and seat location, but are expected to start around $50 USD.
The ticket sale process has not yet been announced, but it is expected to include a mix of online and offline sales. Fans should keep an eye out for official announcements from FIFA regarding the ticket sale process.
If you are hoping to attend the 2026 FIFA World Cup, don’t miss your chance – tickets will go on sale in early 2020! Be sure to check back frequently for updates, and start planning your trip now!

10) The final match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey
MetLife Stadium, the home of the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets, will play host to the 2026 FIFA World Cup final. Located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the stadium opened its doors back in 2010, and has since played host to a number of big sporting events including Super Bowl XLVIII and WrestleMania XXIX.
The venue was announced as the final match host at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow in June 2018, beating off competition from other venues in the United States and Mexico. This marks the first time that the World Cup Final will be held outside of Europe or South America.
MetLife Stadium will no doubt be a fitting venue for the grand finale of the tournament. With a capacity of 82,500, it will be able to hold the expected influx of fans from all over the world that are hoping to witness history being made. The stadium is well equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, and is sure to provide an unforgettable atmosphere for players and fans alike.
It’s still four years until kick-off time, but preparations are already well underway. With MetLife Stadium hosting the final match, we can expect a truly historic spectacle come 2026.

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