A euphoric cry of “Gooaaalll” figuratively comes from New Jersey and New York government officials after the Garden State recently landed the right to host several 2026 World Cup games at MetLife Stadium.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York City Mayor Eric Adams led an outpouring of celebration after MetLife Stadium and the New Jersey-New York Area were awarded one of 16 host berths for the 2026 World Cup.
And it will unfold across the United States, Canada and Mexico with the largest field ever -48 teams.
Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, will help New Jersey soccer fans double down on the World Cup experience. The Linc will be another host site (its first event on August 3, 2003 was an international soccer battle between Manchester United and FC Barcelona).
Additional East region games will take place in Toronto, Boston and Miami.
2026 World Cup to be hosted by ‘greatest region in the world’
Obviously, with the 2026 World Cup still four years away, specific details such as teams, dates and matches will be announced down the road.
However, even with the long wait, Murphy was certainly excited about the news following last week’s official announcement.
“We are honored to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup with our neighbors across the Hudson, and we are fully prepared to deliver the world-class experience that the beautiful game deserves,” Murphy said in a press release.
“”Future generations of New Jerseyans will remember fondly that, on the heels of a global pandemic, the biggest sporting event in the world was hosted by the greatest region in the world. In addition to building upon our lasting global legacy, as a host region we will also benefit from significant economic activity and impact.”
The New York/New Jersey region is home to five airports servicing 181 countries. Additionally, more hotels are currently being built in the region according to the release.
The synergy between New York and New Jersey figured into their joint bid. MetLife Stadium seats more than 82,000 people and hosts an estimated two million guests annually. It also is just five miles west of New York City.
Both states gain a substantial boost to their economies.
In addition to matches played at MetLife Stadium, New York/New Jersey will host FIFA Fan Fest sites around the region. The proposed training facilities are:
- Rutgers University
- The Pingry School
- Kean University
- Red Bull Football Club training facility
- New York City Football Club training facility.
NJ, NY natural breeding grounds for World Cup
So it’s fitting for the World Cup to land here. The New Jersey-New York region is where soccer first vaulted to national prominence.
The area long held a grass-roots love affair for soccer with its large international community in the mid 1970s.
The New York Cosmos tapped into that market with a move that propelled the sport’s rise. The team signed a trio of international superstars – Brazilian legend Pelé, Italian star Giorgio Chinaglia and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer – to play for them.
This move imported soccer to a nation largely unfamiliar with it.
Of course, Pelé, had won three World Cups for Brazil. And he was called by many the greatest players of all time. His impact was the soccer equivalent of Muhammad Ali.
At he time, he was one of the world’s highest-paid athletes. The Cosmos moved into Giants Stadium (later replaced by MetLife Stadium) in 1977.
By the time he retired in 1977, average attendance for the league had almost doubled from 7,642 to 13,558.
The fuse had been lit. Soccer popularity grew.
For those wondering if New Jersey has hosted World Cup games, the answer is yes.
When the U.S. last hosted the men’s FIFA World Cup in 1994, Giants Stadium played host to seven games (including quarterfinal and semifinal matches).
Giants Stadium also hosted the opening match for the women’s FIFA World Cup in 1999.
2022 World Cups odds at DraftKings Sportsbook
The 2026 plans are welcome news for New Jersey fans, who don’t get their usual summer dose this year
The World Cup, traditionally held now, will start November 21 in Qatar. The date change is to accommodate the climate of the host country.
According to that time schedule, DraftKings Sportsbook waited to release its 2022 game lines and now has more than 50 options up.
Looking at things from a NJ sports betting perspective, Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayNJ that Brazil (+450) and Germany (+850) took early action.
But for 2026, Avello expects enormous action on the American team. The Cup will return to its desired time slot and start in early June.
“That will be enormous,” he said. “ First of all, every game will be bet big. And with so many games being here, we will take some huge action on the American team. It will be a huge loss for the house if they win everything.”