Leave it to FIFA to turn something very simple into something very complicated. Where to hold the World Cup 2030. Seems straightforward enough right? Nope.
For the 2030 World Cup’s centennial celebration, six nations from three continents will jointly host the prestigious tournament.
While the primary hosts will be Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, the initial opening matches will be held in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. This gesture acknowledges the World Cup’s South American origins.
This unconventional hosting decision follows discreet negotiations between UEFA, South American, and African football associations.
To sidestep a protracted and expensive bidding war, they proposed this unique format to FIFA and a final seal of approval is expected at the upcoming FIFA Congress.
As hosting nations, all six countries will secure direct entry to the 48-team tournament.
Why Spain, Portugal & Morocco?
Like all bids for major tournaments, this too was a process of elimination after other competing nations withdrew from contention.
In October 2020, after two years of deliberations, the Royal Spanish Football Federation and the Portuguese Football Federation unveiled their intention to present a combined bid for the World Cup.
Additionally, with the endorsement of the CAF, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, which had previously announced an independent bid, merged with Spain and Portugal in March 2023.
Spain has a rich history of hosting significant football events, including the 1982 World Cup, Euro 1964, and co-hosting Euro 2020.
Portugal was the backdrop for Euro 2004, while Morocco hosted AFCON 1988 and WAFCON 2022.
The current plan lists fifteen possible venues spanning thirteen cities within mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. Morocco has highlighted six potential venues, including five existing stadiums and a proposed 93,000-seat arena.
The debate still rages over where the World Cup 2030 Final should be held. The Spanish are pitching the iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid. However, the president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, Fouzi Lekjaa, has voiced his preference for Casablanca to be the backdrop for the final.
But it looks like it will all get sorted when the representatives of Morocco, Spain, and Portugal meet on October 18th to iron out match schedules and other logistics.
Why Are So Many Countries Included In The World Cup 2030?
So now we know that the World Cup 2030 will be held across Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, why are other countries like Uruguay involved?
The answer is simple. This is the 100th anniversary of the FIFA World Cup and the first one took place in Uruguay.
Knowing it was on the horizon, Uruguay and Argentina had aspired to co-host this centenary edition. To keep the sentimental fires burning bright, the inaugural 2030 match will be staged in Montevideo honouring Uruguay’s role as the initial World Cup victors and hosts.
Matches in Argentina will pay homage to its status as the cradle of the South American football confederation, CONMEBOL.
So while one or two games will be played in South America, the majority of the 101 matches, will take place in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.
And just to complicate things even further, because this is FIFA after all, the opening game will be in Uruguay, but roughly 6,000 miles away, the opening ceremony will be in one of the main host countries.
Failed World Cup 2030 Bids
Hosting duties for a World Cup is a mammoth task which is why so many countries now enter joint bids. It’s so expensive that if costs can be shared, it takes the financial pressure off.
That is why for the World Cup 2030, no country made an individual bid to host it on their own. All abandoned bids were joint efforts.
The Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia big was refused on the grounds that it could not be hosted by a member of the Asian AFC as Qatar hosted the 2022 edition.
There was a lot of negotiating, talk of changing the rules and promises being made to anyone who would listen about how it could work, but eventually, it was binned.
A joint bid also came in from the United Kingdom and Ireland ( who also bid on UEFA Euro 2028).
The proposal was widely supported by all five governments (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland). Then they changed their minds and in January 2022 decided on bid to host Euro 2028.
Other potential proposals came from Cameroonian politician Joshua Osih for a central African nations World Cup.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in thought that a World Cup jointly hosted by North and South Korea would help improve relations and even extended the offer to China and Japan.
Colombia, Ecuador and Peru publicly announced their intentions for a joint bid and even Football Australia got in on the action.
Sadly, none of these efforts resulted in official bids.