‘Unique’ 2030 World Cup set to be played in six countries

Featured image credit: Marcelo Campi/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED/Edited for size

The 2030 World Cup will take place in six countries spanning three continents after FIFA confirmed that the bulk of games will be held in Morocco, Portugal and Spain, with Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay to host “celebratory” matches during the tournament.

FIFA confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that the joint proposal from Morocco, Portugal and Spain is the sole candidate to host the 2030 World Cup.

A bid from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile had also been in contention to host the event, which will take place 100 years after Uruguay staged the inaugural World Cup in 1930. Although the bid has not been successful, a compromise has been reached whereby Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will host one match each.

Morocco, Portugal and Spain will qualify automatically for the 2030 World Cup, subject to the completion of a successful bidding process conducted by FIFA and a decision by the FIFA Congress in 2024.

FIFA said the decision to stage matches in South America takes into account the “historical context” of the first-ever World Cup in 1930. A unique centenary celebration ceremony will also be held in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino 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.

“As a result, a celebration will take place in South America and three South American countries – Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay – will organise one match each of the FIFA World Cup 2030. The first of these three matches will of course be played at the stadium where it all began, in Montevideo’s mythical Estádio Centenário (pictured), precisely to celebrate the centenary edition of the FIFA World Cup.”

Infantino added: “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.”

Spain last hosted the World Cup in 1982 and Portugal has never staged the tournament, although it did host UEFA Euro 2004. Morocco would become the second African country to host a World Cup, after South Africa did so in 2010.

FIFA has also launched the bidding process for the 2034 World Cup, with member associations from Asia and Oceania having been invited to submit their proposals. Saudi Arabia, which will host this year’s Club World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup, has announced that it will be submitting a bid to host FIFA’s showpiece tournament in 2034.

Saudi Arabia would be the favourite to host the tournament, although Football Australia chief executive James Johnson has previously suggested that his association could submit a bid on the back of its successful co-hosting of this year’s Women’s World Cup alongside New Zealand.

Following FIFA’s announcement, Johnson said Football Australia is still exploring the possibility of bidding. However, FIFA’s deadline of October 31 for expressions of interest would not give the federation much time.

News of Saudi Arabia’s intention to bid comes after Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of the country, recently dismissed claims that the Kingdom’s vast investment in sports events and properties represents ‘sportswashing’, stating that he “doesn’t care” about this label if it continues to boost GDP.

The men’s World Cup will expand to a 48-team tournament in 2026, when the US, Canada and Mexico will co-host.