Two years to go and FIFA president promises ‘greatest’ men’s World Cup ever

Like football fans all around the world, FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is “counting down the days” with two years to go until the 2026 FIFA World Cup kicks off.

The 23rd edition of the tournament, which starts on June 12, 2026 (NZT) at the iconic Estadio Azteca Mexico City, would be the “the greatest event, the greatest show, the greatest tournament” the world has ever seen, Infantino says.

The sports governing body says it will also be the most inclusive FIFA World Cup ever, featuring a record 48 teams and hosted by 16 cities across three countries, Canada, Mexico and the United States.

“I am counting down the days, definitely. Like everyone else. Two years seems far away, but we know it is very, very close,” Infantino said.

Main photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino … counting down the days. Photo credit:

The Estadio Azteca Mexico City — one of three venues in Mexico along with Estadio Monterrey and Estadio Guadalajara — will make history at the tournament, having also hosted the opening matches of the FIFA World Cup in 1970 and 1986.

“It will be the first stadium to host three inaugural (FIFA) World Cup football matches,” said the FIFA president.

“We’ve never seen this before, and to experience it at an iconic stadium like the Azteca is something very, very special. We all know the epic games, (FIFA) World Cup games, that have been played there in the past, absolute champions like Pelé and Diego Maradona who played and won at the Azteca.”

The FIFA Men’s World Cup trophy. Photo credit: FIFA.

As a further reminder that the tournament is approaching, a number of qualifying matches are being played as the milestone was reached.

Eighteen games were scheduled to take place in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualifiers, bringing the second round of qualifying to a conclusion and determining which 18 teams would proceed to the third stage.

Matches in North, Central America & Caribbean (Concacaf), and in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) are also scheduled in June 2024. The ball started rolling in South America in September 2023.

Upcoming FIFA World Cup milestones include qualifying draws in both Asia and Oceania.

Qualifying in AFC will continue in September with 18 nations vying for eight direct tournament slots, while matches in the Oceania Football Confederation will start in September with 11 nations competing for one direct slot.

UEFA qualifying, meanwhile, takes place between March 2025 and March 2026, with 16 berths available for European teams.

Infantino said preparations were well on course across the three host nations.

“In the host cities, of course, we are working with the authorities, with the stadium owners and operators, with the local communities,” he said of the two Canadian, three Mexican, and 11 US venues.

“(There is) fantastic collaboration everywhere. They are looking forward to millions and millions of fans from all over the world. The stadiums are absolutely beautiful.

“Every day, there are events which are being planned, which are taking place, be it with the authorities, be it with our partners, the sponsors, the broadcasters.”

Fans can start to get ready to be part of the biggest FIFA World Cup yet by signing up for ticketing and hospitality updates via, with hospitality sales scheduled to start later this year.


We thank FIFA for providing this story.

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