The day before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Moscow comes news that MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford is the proposed site for the final match of the 2026 soccer extravaganza.
The consideration of New Jersey to host the World Cup-deciding game comes as part of a winning North American bid to host the games. Under terms of the deal, the U.S. will host 60 games, while Mexico and Canada get 10 matches apiece.
After multiple published reports said New Jersey would host the 2026 championship game, MetLife Stadium issued the following statement:
"FIFA will make the final selection of host cities and match locations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup from the 23 candidates proposed in the united bid. FIFA will make those decisions in 2020-2021. Metlife Stadium was included in the bid book as a recommended site for the final and we look forward to working with FIFA to finalize plans in the coming years."
Stadiums in 16 cities – stretching from Edmonton, Canada, to Mexico City – will serve as game venues. Ten of the sites, including the East Rutherford stadium, are in the U.S.; the balance are split evenly between Canada and Mexico.
Gov. Phil Murphy released a statement expressing hope the North Jersey venue will be chosen to host some earlier matches, in addition to serving as the final-game venue.
"MetLife Stadium is an internationally renowned facility with first-class amenities,” Murphy said. “The Meadowlands region includes hundreds of hotels to house fans from all over the world and first-rate entertainment, shopping and dining, all just across the river from New York City."
The U.S., whose national team failed to qualify to play in the World Cup this time around, last hosted the quadrennial tournament in 1994. The North American bid beat out its only challenger for the 2026 tourney, Morocco, in a 134-65 vote.
U.S. Soccer reportedly spent more than $6 million of a combined North American budget of about $8 million to promote the winning proposal to host the 2026 tournament.
Qatar is set to host the 2022 World Cup.