FIFA president Gianni Infantino said US, Mexico ands Canada should be ready for a football "invasion" as the host cities for the 2026 World Cup were unveiled on Thursday.
Fifa announced the 16 cities - 11 in the US, three in Mexico and two in Canada - that were successful from the 22 bids put forward in a special event at the Rockefeller Centre in New York.
This will be the first ever World Cup co-hosted by three different countries and will also see a record number of teams taking part, up from 32 to 48 with the tournament returning to North America for the first time since the 1994 finals.
It will be a new challenge for the world's favourite sport in the challenging North American market, where it has yet to make serious inroads. For Infantino, changing that is important.
"This part of the world, these three countries you are leading the world in many areas," he told reporters. "But in the number one sport in the world, which is soccer or football, you are not – yet.
"And the objective must be that you will be leading the world as well in the world’s number one sport."
Many of the matches in 2026 will take place on reconfigured American football fields, as some now use artificial turf.
Eight of the 11 U stadiums have artificial turf and promised to install temporary grass. Some venues, notably SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, cannot currently fit a 68x105m field and would need renovations to remove seats near sidelines.
All of the US games will be held in venues that are home to NFL teams. A total of 60 of the 80 games in the tournament will take place there.
Mexico City's iconic Azteca Stadium, which hosted the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals, was included among three Mexican venues along with the cities of Monterrey and Guadalajara.
Vancouver and Toronto will stage the Canadian games in the tournament.
Infantino said 2026 would eclipse the 1994 finals, which still holds the record for the highest total attendance.
"2026 will be much, much bigger," Infantino said. "I think this part of the world doesn't realise what will happen in 2026.
"These three countries will be turned upside down and then flipped again. The world will be invading Canada, Mexico and the United States. They will be invaded by a big wave of joy and happiness."
Infantino stated that given the vast geographical spread of staging the tournament across North America, Fifa was looking at basing teams in regional "clusters" to minimise travel.
"When you're dealing with such a large region as North America we need to care about the fans and make sure that teams are playing in clusters, that fans and teams don't have to travel crazy distances," Infantino said.
Full list of World Cup 2026 venues:
SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles
MetLife Stadium, New Jersey
AT&T Stadium, Dallas
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Gillette Stadium, Boston
NRG Stadium, Houston
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Levi's Stadium, San Francisco Bay Area
Lumen Field, Seattle
Azteca Stadium, Mexico City
Estadio Akron, Guadalajara
Estadio BBVA, Monterrey
BMO Field, Toronto
BC Place, Vancouver