Will 2026 World Cup final be played on grass or turf? MetLife Stadium surface a major topic for FIFA match

In the summer of 2026, the world’s best players will converge in the New York City metro area to contest potentially the most-watched football match in history.

In an upset, it was revealed by FIFA in February of 2024 that MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, part of the New York City metro area, will be given the lucrative and historic honor of hosting the 2026 World Cup final.

It was widely reported for months in the lead-up to the 2026 World Cup schedule reveal that AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas would be selected to host the tournament final, beating both MetLife Stadium and SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to the honor, but that was ultimately not the case.

With this appointment, the venue’s playing surface immediately became a major topic of conversation. MetLife Stadium currently sports a turf field that has often come under fire for a perception of heightened injury risk.

The Sporting News brings you all the latest information available regarding the 2026 FIFA World Cup final, which has been scheduled for July 19, 2026.

MORE: Full match schedule for 2026 FIFA World Cup in USA, Canada, Mexico

Will 2026 World Cup final be held on grass or turf?

While MetLife Stadium has a permanent turf surface installed and in use for most events, they will have to make a change for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

This is because FIFA mandates World Cup matches be played on grass. Therefore, the 2026 World Cup final, and all seven other matches played at the stadium throughout the tournament, will be played on a natural grass surface.

However, the questions and possible controversy do not simply end there. Many times in the recent past throughout the United States, stadiums with turf fields have attempted to install temporary grass surfaces on top of their turf in order to host individual soccer games, to questionable results.

According to Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer back in 2022, FIFA had teamed up with a professor at the University of Tennessee to research growing grass for various climates and stadium situations across the United States in the unique World Cup venues around the country.

It’s unclear whether FIFA will mandate stadiums install permanent grass surfaces that can be wheeled in and out of the venue as needed — an extremely expensive undertaking — or if they will concede that venues may install a temporary grass pitch.

Back in 2019, USMNT players union spoke out against the decision to install a temporary grass pitch at FC Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium for a summer friendly against Venezuela, claiming the playing field constituted “a substantially increased risk of injury” and was “a waste of 90 minutes.” Venezuela won the game 3-0 on three first-half goals.

Regardless of how it’s accomplished, the games at the 2026 World Cup will be played on grass one way or another.

MORE: Why NFL players complain about MetLife Stadium turf field in East Rutherford, NJ

What is the MetLife Stadium playing surface?

As of the 2023 NFL season, MetLife Stadium features a FieldTurf Core HD playing surface for NFL games and other events at the 82,500-seat venue.

New York Giants owner John Mara made the change from UBU Speed S5-M turf in the 2022-23 NFL offseason after significant criticism from around the league regarding a perceived increased risk of injury presented by the field. That turf had been in place for five years, installed in the summer of 2017.

Concerns about the injury risk of the MetLife Stadium field turf have circulated since the venue’s inception. Opened in 2010 after a three-year construction process, the turf at MetLife Stadium has often been the subject of criticism for its propensity for injury. Whether that propensity is real, or simply perception, is another topic, but the conversation has been consistent throughout the stadium’s lifespan.

Just this past year, MetLife Stadium NFL tenant, the New York Jets, lost their starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a torn Achilles tendon in the opening game of the season. Giants signal-caller Daniel Jones tore his ACL midseason last year, although that injury occurred on the road in Las Vegas, whose home venue Allegiant Stadium has a permanent, roll-in natural grass surface that can be swapped with a turf surface used by the UNLV football team.

MetLife Stadium has made improvements to its turf field in the past. For example, New York Giants wide receiver Domenik Hixon tore his ACL on the stadium’s turf back in 2014, a high-profile injury since it occurred when Hixon stepped awkwardly in a seam of a removable turf logo at midfield. Since then, the NFL logo has been left at midfield and not swapped out between games for the Jets and Giants.

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *