World Cup 2026: Will dispute at Estadio Azteca endanger tournament hosting?

source: ESPN; author: Miguel Ciołczyk Garcia

World Cup 2026: Will dispute at Estadio Azteca endanger tournament hosting? Lodge owners at the region's largest stadium are accusing FIFA of being "ignored" in hosting the World Cup. The federation rejects the accusations, so the situation is escalating. The stadium authorities have a plan to resolve the dispute, but we still do not know the details.


What is the source of the conflict?

In 1963, a group of people bought private boxes at the Estadio Azteca, which was still in the early stages of construction, for 115,000 Mexican pesos. In return, for 99 years counting from the stadium's inauguration, they were to have unlimited access to football matches, performances, events and other spectacles of any kind of all other events held in the Mexican capital.

This was also the case when Brazil won the 1970 World Cup. Both events played in Mexico City went off without a hitch for the owners, but in 1986 FIFA demanded that the owners pay for entry to the venue. After negotiations, an agreement was reached, but the demands of the international federation could prove to be a precedent.

Estadio Azteca (Coloso de Santa Ursula)© @verticaldronemx

Calm before the storm?

Although the agreement stipulates that lodge owners should be able to have access to any event until 2065, the latest news, or rather the lack of it, is starting to worry them. Neither FIFA nor the stadium authorities are responding to questions from holders. So they don't know how the controversial renovation of Estadio Azteca planned for 2025 will affect their boxes, or whether FIFA will again demand an admission fee.

Representatives who went to the stadium authorities to ask these questions were only told that a negotiator would work with them to establish rules for access to the boxes during the World Cup. Meanwhile, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) has distanced itself from the issue, arguing that it is between FIFA and the stadiums.

The lodge owners will defend their rights

We have the right to do this because we have already paid for it and they are not doing us any favours, - Roberto Ruano, secretary of the Mexican Association of Lodge and Seat Owners of Mexico, says for ESPN. He points out that around a hundred lodge owners have joined the association because of the situation.

The association also relayed that a representative of Televisa, the stadium's owner, refused to meet. Although they remain committed to dialogue with the stadium and FIFA, the owners do not rule out going to court if access to the lodges is blocked.

Estadio Azteca (Coloso de Santa Ursula)© @verticaldronemx

FIFA rejects the accusations

US broadcaster ESPN obtained a comment from FIFA, which relayed that it continues to work closely with host cities and venues to host the largest, most inclusive and successful FIFA World Cup in history in 2026. Details of host city matches and fan access will be announced in due course. There could hardly be a better example of an evasive answer.

The situation is all the more absurd given that 2 years before the World Cup, nothing is known and FIFA is not holding any talks to resolve the conflict. The result could be a stadium blockade, lawsuits and even the loss of Estadio Azteca's right to host the World Cup.