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A New Jersey stadium beside toxic marshland is set to host the World Cup final

New Jersey, home of The Sopranos, Bruce Springsteen, Anthony Bourdain, stunning coastlines, charming towns and salt water taffy, is among the most ethnically diverse places anywhere in the world. So what better place to host the biggest sporting event on earth, right?

When soccer’s governing body Fifa announced the 2026 World Cup Final hosting rights  to the Garden State over more fancied rivals Dallas and Los Angeles, the internet let out a collective groan of disbelief.

To be fair to New Jerseyians, the widespread derision was largely directed at MetLife Stadium, a ground unloved by sports fans and concertgoers alike for its unreliable public transport links and less-than-glamorous location.

The East Rutherford stadium is situated next to a marshland that was a dumping ground for toxic chemicals for decades, amongst factories, endless concrete car parks and America’s second largest mall.

“We may be 896 days out, but if you are reading this, your NJ Transit train departing the World Cup final at MetLife is *already* delayed,” journalist Ella Brockway wrote in a tongue-in-cheek post on X/Twitter.

Athletes aren’t thrilled about the stadium, either. MetLife is home to two struggling NFL sides, the New York Giants and New York Jets, and seventeen NFL players have suffered season-ending injuries in the past three years on its artificial turf.

MetLife Stadium is most definitely in New Jersey, and not New York

Those trademark knee-sliding celebrations should be safe to pull off, though, as the pitch will be replaced with grass in time for the big show.

Even Fifa appeared to get in on tormenting New Jersey as it designated the host city as “New York New Jersey”, giving top billing to the state’s flashier, at-times antagonistic