3 continents will jointly host the World Cup in 2030 for the first time

3 continents will jointly host the World Cup in 2030 for the first time

The 2030 FIFA Men’s World Cup is poised to make history, featuring matches in six countries across three continents, offering a distinctive format to commemorate the tournament’s 100th anniversary in Uruguay.

In a landmark decision, FIFA reached an agreement among soccer’s continental leaders on Wednesday to accept the bid led by co-hosts Spain, Portugal, and Morocco as the exclusive candidate to host the tournament. This agreement also includes the hosting of matches in South American nations Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, which had previously proposed a rival co-hosting bid.

These three countries will each have the honor of hosting one match to kick off the tournament, enabling FIFA to stage the opening game in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, where the iconic Centenario Stadium hosted the inaugural 1930 World Cup final.

The bid initially began as a collaboration between Spain and Portugal and later expanded to include Morocco in Northern Africa earlier this year.

All six host nations will receive automatic entry into the 48-team tournament, marking the first time the World Cup will span multiple continents.

Alejandro Dominguez, president of South American soccer body CONMEBOL, emphasized, “The centennial World Cup could not be far from South America, where everything began. The 2030 World Cup will be played on three continents.”

The consensus among continental soccer governing bodies also paved the way for FIFA to initiate the bidding process for the 2034 World Cup. Only member federations from Asia and Oceania are eligible to bid for the hosting rights.

Saudi Arabia has already entered the race, and Australia has shown interest after successfully co-hosting the Women’s World Cup this year alongside New Zealand. Regardless of the outcome, it is highly likely that the 2034 tournament will be held in November and December, coinciding with the European club soccer season, similar to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The accelerated timeline for selecting the 2034 host by the end of the following year is viewed as a significant development, particularly benefiting Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has forged strong ties with FIFA president Gianni Infantino over the past six years.

Yasser Al Misehal, president of the Saudi soccer federation and a FIFA Council member, expressed the desire to “celebrate our football culture and share our country with the world” in a government statement announcing their intention to bid.

While the FIFA Council’s acceptance of the unified 2030 candidacy awaits formal approval next year at a meeting of the 211 member federations, it is anticipated to be a mere formality. The selection of the host for the 2034 tournament will be determined at a separate FIFA congress, as per FIFA’s announcement.

Gianni Infantino summed up the significance of the 2030 World Cup by stating, “In 2030, we will have a unique global footprint, encompassing three continents – Africa, Europe, and South America – with six countries – Argentina, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay – coming together to welcome and unite the world, all while celebrating the beautiful game, its centenary, and the FIFA World Cup.”

The 48-team tournament slated for June-July 2030 will kick off in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay, featuring special “Centenary Celebration Matches.” It will then transition to the primary host nations, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. This ambitious itinerary entails extensive travel over considerable distances and through varying time zones, including lengthy flights from Buenos Aires to Madrid.

This arrangement has faced criticism, particularly from Football Supporters Europe, an officially recognized fan group under UEFA. They have voiced concerns about the inconveniences faced by supporters and the environmental impact. Additionally, questions have arisen about FIFA’s stance on human rights, especially in light of the selection of a 2034 host with a contentious record.

Morocco’s successful bid to host the 2030 World Cup marks a significant achievement for the nation. Morocco has invested significantly in infrastructure development in its major cities and recently secured the hosting rights for the 2025 African Cup of Nations. Morocco’s national team’s impressive performance in the Qatar World Cup, reaching the semifinals and defeating Spain and Portugal, further bolstered its bid. This marks the second instance of an African nation hosting the World Cup, following South Africa’s hosting in 2010.

The decision regarding the 2030 World Cup follows a recent controversy involving the former president of Spain’s soccer federation, Luis Rubiales. His inappropriate behavior at the Women’s World Cup final led to his suspension by FIFA and subsequent resignation. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez expressed concerns that Rubiales could jeopardize Spain’s bid to host the men’s World Cup if he remained in office.

Sánchez reiterated Spain’s commitment to the values of equality, solidarity, and fair play, emphasizing Spain’s achievements as champions of both the men’s and women’s World Cups. Spain has previously hosted the 1982 World Cup, while Argentina was the host of the 1978 edition, and Uruguay was the site of the inaugural 1930 tournament. Portugal, Morocco, and Paraguay will all make their debut as hosts in the 2030 World Cup.

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