- The 2030 World Cup is to be staged in six different countries in three continents
- Morocco, Spain and Portugal are to be hosts, with games also in South America
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The 2030 World Cup is set to be staged in six different countries across three continents in a shock move to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the tournament.
Under the terms of an extraordinary proposal discussed at a FIFA Council meeting today Spain, Portugal and Morocco would be the official World Cup hosts, but the first three games would take place in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay in a nod to the competition’s South American roots.
The radical move is the result of months of secret talks between UEFA and the South American and African federations, who reached an agreement before taking the proposal to FIFA. The world governing body are also understood to have given their support in principle to an idea that would spare them a lengthy and costly bidding process, but it needs to be rubber-stamped at next year’s FIFA Congress.
Spain, Portugal and Morocco have been considered favourites to win hosting rights for 2030 since confirming their joint bid earlier this year, which would have meant heartbreak for fans in South America.
Uruguay and Argentina announced their intention to come together to host the centenary World Cup as long ago as 2017, a romantic bid given they contested the first final which was won by the Uruguayan hosts in 1930, a joint enterprise which was subsequently joined by Paraguay and Chile.
Morocco, Spain and Portugal are set to host the 2030 World Cup, with 2022 winners Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay set to stage the first three games of the tournament
Morocco, Portugal and Spain have been considered favourites to win hosting rights since confirming their joint bid earlier this year
Saudi Arabia also held talks with Greece and Egypt last year about submitting a joint bid, but the oil-rich kingdom have since refocussed their sights on winning the 2034 and indicated earlier this year that they would withdraw from the earlier race.
Under the proposal presented to FIFA earlier today the first game of the 2030 tournament would take place in Montevideo to recognise Uruguay’s legacy as the first World Cup winners and hosts, with the second game taking place in Argentina.
The third game would then move to Paraguay to recognise the country’s position as the birthplace of the South America federation, CONMEBOL, but Chile would not get any matches. All the remaining games would take place in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has backed the proposal as a way of making 2030 the most global World Cup ever.
All six host countries would be granted automatic qualification, leaving 42 of the 48 competing teams having to qualify, although the South American qualifying campaign would be reduced as only 3 of their six automatic spot would be available, plus a play-off place.
In a somewhat bizarre twist FIFA have made clear that as official hosts the opening ceremony must take place in Spain, Portugal or Morocco despite the fact the first game would take place elsewhere.
The 2030 proposal also has significant implications for the 2034 bidding process and appears to make it almost inevitable that the following tournament will take place in Saudi Arabia, raising the prospect of another winter World Cup.
With FIFA maintaining the principle of confederation rotation only hosts from Asian and Oceania would be invited to bid for 2034, leaving Saudi Arabia in an unassailable position despite possible interest from Australia and New Zealand.