WE GOT THE CUP! MetLife Stadium will host 2026 World Cup Final

MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford Wikipedia

The next FIFA World Cup is still more than two years away, but the New York-New Jersey area has already received a massive win.

In what is considered a stunning announcement, FIFA revealed Sunday,Feb. 4, that the championship game of the 48-country event will take place in our backyard at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on July 19, 2026.

“We just scored the winning goal,” Murphy said in a joint video with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, which was posted on social media just minutes after the announcement was made. The New York-New Jersey area was one of the 16 cities to hold games as part of the event, which is jointly hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico. Recent speculation, though, was that Dallas’ AT&T Stadium would host the Final. Instead, the honor goes to MetLife Stadium.

The stadium, as well as its predecessor Giants Stadium, has hosted plenty of big soccer moments before, but this promises to be the biggest, which Murphy believes is appropriate considering the diversity and passion for the sport in the area.

“In many ways, we got the whole world right in our backyard, with more than 600 languages and dialects spoken across our region,” Murphy said in the video produced before the announcement. “There is nowhere that better captures the breadth and diversity of the world’s greatest game than New York City and our great Garden State.”

Later on Feb 4, Murphy, in a statement called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our entire region; hosting the Final provides NYNJ an unparalleled platform to brilliantly showcase what we stand for — diversity, equality, access and inclusion.”

In total, eight of the World Cup’s 104 matches will be played at MetLife Stadium. In a statement released

later in the day to NJ.com and others, Murphy’s administration said the matches are projected to generate an economic impact of greater than $2 billion for the New York/New Jersey region, bring more than a million visitors to the region and create more than 14,000 jobs.

That impact is sure to be felt within the towns of The Observer coverage area, located just a handful of miles away. When the United States last hosted the Men’s World Cup in 1994, Giants Stadium hosted seven matches, including a semifinal contest between Italy and Bulgaria.

Since MetLife Stadium opened in 2010, the venue has hosted 26 international soccer matches, most notably the final of the 2016 CONCACAF Copa America Centenario when Chile defeated Argentina by penalty kicks in front of 82,026 fans.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup begins June 11, 2026, with the opening match at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

MetLife Stadium will host five matches during the group stage — June 13, 16, 22, 25 and 27 with start time and opponents to be announced at a later date. It will also host a Round of 32 match on June 30 and a Round of 16 match on July 5.

Local reaction: universal joy

After word broke of FIFA’s decision, the reaction was universally joyful.

Tony Meola, a soccer legend himself, says he is thrilled New Jersey, where he played for Kearny High School in the ‘80s as a goalie and for the Metro Stars of Major League Soccer, will get to host the FIFA Final.

“So excited that the World Cup is coming to the great state of New Jersey,” Meola told The Observer’s Lisa Feorenzo. “Watching my first Cup in 1982 from our home in Kearny, I could never have dreamed that it would one day come to our backyard.

“Congrats New Jersey … and get ready to show the world our beautiful state.”

Kearny High School boys’ varsity soccer head coach Bill Galka was similarly excited upon hearing the news. “

It’s going to be absolutely great to have the World Cup Final just a few miles from our town,” Galka said. “It will be great for generations of soccer fans, from youth programs to the high school level. “We’re going to be the focus of the soccer world. When you think of the history of soccer and Kearny — with John (Harkes),

Tab (Ramos) and Tony (Meola) it’s just tremendous.”

Lastly, Kearny Mayor Carol Jean Doyle says she’s elated FIFA chose Jersey over Dallas for the Final.

“Everyone was thinking Dallas,” Doyle said. “And when the announcement was made, the place went crazy. There was a private event by invitation only. I am so happy for the legions of soccer families from Kearny who will get to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are proudly Soccertown USA and the overflow from the World Cup will allow us to showcase our great town and all it has to offer.

“The economic impact alone will be extraordinary, not to mention how frenzied Kearny will be, all of West Hudson will be and the entire region, really.”

Doyle said she sent Kearny’s Michael Mara and Michael Battista and their families to represent her at the event as she was scheduled to be out of town.

The Observer’s Kevin A. Canessa Jr. contributed to this report.

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)

Editor & Broadcaster at 

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.