Everything from the country’s shaky human rights record to the way it secured the honour of hosting the tournament (not to mention the astronomical price of a pint of desert-warm Budweiser) has overshadowed the buildup to what would normally be a fervent festival of football.
Many fans and institutions are boycotting the event, and instead looking ahead to the next World Cup, set to be held in four years time in 2026.
But where exactly will that tournament take place, and what kind of stadiums can we expect to see host top-tier international football? Here is everything you need to know.
Where will the World Cup be held in 2026?
Earlier this year, the 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico were revealed by FIFA.
The expanded 2026 tournament will feature 48 teams, up from 16 in this year’s competition in Qatar, and will be co-hosted by three countries for the first time.
The selections were confirmed during a ceremony at Rockefeller Centre in New York City, overseen by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“We congratulate the 16 FIFA World Cup host cities on their outstanding commitment and passion,” Infantino said in a statement.
“Today is a historic day – for everyone in those cities and states, for FIFA, for Canada, the USA and Mexico who will put on the greatest show on Earth.
Here is everything you need to know.
Where will World Cup 2026 games be played?
Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle are among the 11 American cities where matches will be held.
Canadian games will be held in Toronto and Vancouver, while the Mexican matches will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
Cincinnati, Denver, Edmonton, Nashville, Orlando, and Washington D.C/Baltimore were the candidate cities to miss out.
For the first time in 32 years, and for the fourth time overall, North America will host the men’s World Cup.
The 1994 tournament was hosted by the United States and won by Brazil, whereas the 1970 and 1986 tournaments were hosted by Mexico and won by Brazil and Argentina, respectively.
Canada has never hosted the tournament before, but it did host the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Which stadiums will host games?
Many of the host cities are home to multiple large stadiums which could host World Cup games.
Although there are "soccer-specific stadiums" in Canada and the United States, the largest dedicated football-specific stadium in the US - Nashville’s Geodis Park - only seats 30,000 people, falling short of FIFA’s 40,000-seat minimum.
Some stadiums, such as Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Seattle’s Lumen Field, are utilised by both NFL and MLS clubs, and despite being primarily used for American Football, all of the Canadian and American stadiums have previously been used for football matches on numerous occasions, and are designed to also host such events.
The confirmed list of stadium venues for games is as follows:
- Toronto - BMO Field, home of Toronto FC (capacity: 45,000)
- Vancouver - BC Place, home of the Vancouver Whitecaps (capacity: 54,500)
- Guadalajara - Estadio Akron, home of C.D. Guadalajara (capacity: 49,850)
- Mexico City - Estadio Azteca, home of Club América, Cruz Azul and the Mexico national team (capacity: 87,523)
- Monterrey - Estadio BBVA, home of C.F. Monterrey (capacity: 53,500)
- Atlanta - Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons NFL team and Atlanta United FC (capacity: 71,000)
- Boston - Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots NFL team and New England Revolution (capacity: 65,878)
- Dallas - AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team (capacity: 80,000)
- Houston - NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans NFL team (capacity: 72,220)
- Kansas City - Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs NFL team and former home of Kansas City Wizards (capacity: 76,416)
- Los Angeles - SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams NFL teams (capacity: 70,240)
- Miami - Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team (capacity: 64,767)
- New York/New Jersey - MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets NFL teams (capacity: 82,500)
- Philadelphia - Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team (capacity: 69,796)
- San Francisco Bay Area - Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers NFL team (capacity: 68,500)
- Seattle - Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team and Seattle Sounders FC (capacity: 69,000)