World Cup 2030: Spain, Portugal and Morocco set to co-host

Opening games will be played in South America to mark centenary of the tournament

The 2030 World Cup will begin in South America before moving to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Reuters
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Spain, Portugal and Morocco are set to co-host the 2030 men’s Fifa World Cup – with three South American nations hosting the tournament's opening matches to celebrate its centenary.

Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay and host city of the first ever World Cup finals match in 1930, is set to stage the opening game of the tournament, with further home ties for Argentina and Paraguay to follow.

All six host countries will receive automatic qualification and the arrangement will see the tournament held across three continents for the first time.

The remainder of the 48-team competition will switch to north Africa and Europe, under a plan announced by Uefa, the Confederation of African Football and South American confederation Conmebol, which was accepted by the Fifa council at a meeting in Paraguay on Wednesday. The proposal is now subject to formal ratification by Fifa’s congress.

Meanwhile, within hours of the 2030 hosting arrangements being announced, Saudi Arabia launched its bid to secure 2034 hosting rights.

With the 2026 finals heading to the United States, Canada and Mexico and this latest tournament award, it was confirmed by Fifa that only bids from the Asian Football Confederation and the Oceania Football Confederation will be considered for 2034.

Saudi Minister of Sport, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, said in a statement issued by the Saudi Press Agency: “Hosting a Fifa World Cup in 2034 would help us achieve our dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation.

“As an emerging and welcoming home for all sports, we believe that hosting a Fifa World Cup is a natural next step in our football journey.”

Uruguay has long been thought of as a likely host with the 2030 tournament taking place 100 years after they hosted and won the maiden competition. Argentina's hosting duties are recognition of the fact they were beaten finalists in 1930 and Paraguay are included as the traditional home of Conmebol.

If the 2030 proposal is ratified, Morocco would become only the second African nation to host World Cup finals matches, after South Africa in 2010.

Portugal have never hosted a World Cup before, while Spain last hosted in 1982. A joint South American bid had looked set to compete with a Spain-Portugal-Morocco proposal for the right to host, but the respective federations worked together to produce this compromise.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI welcomed Fifa's decision. The nation stunned the world in Qatar last year when they reached the semi-finals.

"His Majesty King Mohammed VI ... has the great pleasure of announcing to the Moroccan people that the Fifa Council has unanimously selected the Morocco-Spain-Portugal bid as the sole candidate to organise the 2030 football World Cup," Morocco's Royal Office said in a statement.

The World Cup will thus return to the Mena region after the successful hosting of the 2022 edition in Qatar where Lionel Messi guided Argentina to the title after a pulsating final against France.

Pedro Rocha, president of the management committee of the Spanish Football Federation, said they were delighted to bring the tournament back to the country.

"I am sure that together with Morocco and Portugal we will organise the best World Cup in history," said Rocha.

Fernando Gomes, the president of the Portuguese Football Federation, said: "Each of our countries brings a vibrant footballing tradition, unrivalled organisational experience and a capacity for innovation that will undoubtedly leave its mark on the future of the competition."

Fifa president Gianni Infantino praised the global reach that the tournament will enjoy.

"In a divided world, Fifa and football are uniting," he said. "The Fifa Council, representing the entire world of football, unanimously agreed to celebrate the centenary of the Fifa World Cup, whose first edition was played in Uruguay in 1930, in the most appropriate way.

"In 2030, we will have a unique global footprint, three continents - Africa, Europe and South America - six countries - Argentina, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay - welcoming and uniting the world while celebrating together the beautiful game, the centenary and the Fifa World Cup."

Updated: October 05, 2023, 5:04 AM