The prime ministers of Spain and Portugal have welcomed Morocco’s move to join their bid to host the 2030 World Cup, saying that it boosted their chances of hosting the event.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI announced this week that his country had joined the bid by the two European countries, apparently replacing war-torn Ukraine in a three-way alliance.
Spain and Portugal declared their joint candidacy in 2021, before adding Ukraine to their bid last October. ALSO READ: The ‘Iberian bid’ to host 2030 World Cup becomes ‘European bid’ with Ukraine.
Morocco caused a surprise at the 2022 World Cup as they became the first African side to reach the semi-finals. They lost to France in the last four before being beaten by Croatia in the third-place play-off.
‘I would like to announce that the Kingdom of Morocco has decided, together with Spain and Portugal, to present a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup,’ Morocco’s Mohammed VI said in a letter read by the country’s minister of sport Chakib Benmoussa in Kigali, where FIFA was hosting its 73rd congress this week.
‘This joint bid, which is unprecedented in football history, will bring together Africa and Europe, the northern and southern Mediterranean, and the African, Arab and Euro-Mediterranean worlds. It will also bring out the best in all of us – in effect a combination of genius, creativity, experience and means.’
‘I think this bid by the Iberian Peninsula with Morocco is very positive,’ Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a joint news conference with his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez on the island of Lanzarote this week.
‘It sends an important message to the entire world and especially Europe and Africa, since it says that we are two neighbouring continents, two continents that want to work together,’ he added.
‘It is the first time that a joint bid is presented from both sides of the Mediterranean, a bid between Africa and Europe. I think this can only help to unite that which can’t be separated.’
Sánchez, meanwhile, said Morocco joining the bid ‘places Spain and Portugal’s joint candidacy in better shape to win the race’.
Neither Sánchez nor Costa mentioned Ukraine during the press conference. But Spanish media have reported that the arrest in November of the head of the Ukrainian football federation over fraud allegations had left Ukraine out of the running.
The reports also said that with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine still on-going, there was little likelihood that the country would be ready to host World Cup matches in seven year’s time.
Football world governing body FIFA is expected to announce the 2030 World Cup hosts in 2024.
A South American bid including Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile is set to challenge the Iberian bid, and Saudi Arabia hopes to lead a joint ticket with Egypt and Greece.
The World Cup has had joint hosts before. In 2002 Japan and South Korea shared the competition.
In 2026, the finals will be played in the United States, Mexico and Canada, when 11 of the 16 planned venues will be in the US.
The first World Cup, in 1930, was hosted and won by Uruguay.
Is 2030 Fifa World Cup heading to Morocco? 🇲🇦⚽️🌍🏆— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) March 15, 2023
"This joint bid will bring together Africa and Europe, the northern and southern Mediterranean, and the African, Arab and Euro-Mediterranean worlds."