Although a final formal ratification will need to be delivered at a Fifa congress in 2024, an unprecedented SIX different countries have been named as co hosts for the 2030 World Cup and they are located on THREE different continents.
With that tournament marking the centenary of the first ever World Cup, it was widely thought that with that inaugural competition taking place in Uruguay, they would be chosen to be the location this time around too, or at least share the honour with a neighbouring nation.
The Uruguayans beat Argentina back in 1930 and those two were confident of being selected as joint hosts, along with Paraguay – the base of South America’s football federation, CONMEBOL.
However, Fifa have decided that to mark the occasion, they will allow these three to play their opening games in their home countries, but then they will each have to travel to play the remainder of their fixtures in one of the other three nations chosen, namely: Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.
All six will be granted automatic qualification to the tournament, meaning that there will be just 42 spots available for the rest of the world to battle it out for. It is understood that despite the initial three matches taking place in South America, the opening ceremony will actually be held in one of the Iberian countries, or in North Africa,
There has also been confirmation that only bids from countries in the Asian and Oceania Football Confederations will be considered for the 2034 finals, with at present Saudi Arabia strongly fancied.
It would seem that Fifa have compromised with their decision. They obviously recognised that for such a milestone it would be fitting for South America and Uruguay in particular to play hosts, but seemingly the joint bid from Europe and North Africa was stronger.
Far from the most environmentally friendly
Consequently, they have come up with this idea as the best solution, but it does look like an awful amount of planning is going to be needed; plus there will be the inevitable environmental criticism, with the excessive travel that will be required from several nations.
It will also be met with disappointment from coaches of sides drawn in the three South American groups, who will see preparations disrupted at a key stage in the tournament.
Back to competion’s beginnings
Montevideo will in all likelihood be the city picked to kick the competition off, just as it had done back in 1930, with games probable the following day in Buenos Airies and Ascuncion.
Two horse race next time?
Joint bids are becomming more and more common, to cut down on the enormous costs of hosting a tournament single-handedly; although the Saudis are unlikely to have any issues and will no doubt put forward a very attractive proposal to take the 2034 edition to the Gulf.
Their strongest challengers for that tournament is expected to come from Australia, after the success of their running of the Women’s World Cup earlier this year, admittedly alongside New Zealand.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino made a statement to back the decision: “In a divided world, Fifa and football are uniting, the Council has unanimously agreed to celebrate the centenary of the World Cup, whose first edition was played in Uruguay in 1930, in the most appropriate way.”
He continued: “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.”
He then went on to justify the proposal of taking the tournament across to Spain, Portugal and Morocco as well by remarking: “We will have a unique global footprint, three continents – Africa, Europe and South America and six countries, welcoming and uniting the world while celebrating together the beautiful game, the centenary and the Fifa World Cup.”
Finishing his communication he called it an opportunity to provide unique social and cultural cohesion, and said it would send a great message of “peace, tolerance and inclusion”.
Spanish bid not affected by scandal
Should, as is expected, everything be rubber-stamped, they will be the first World Cup finals games played in South America since 2014, when Brazil played host; and it will be only the second time Africa has hosted matches, after South Africa did so in 2010.
The Portuguese have never had the honour before, whilst the Spanish did it once before back in 1982. There was some thought that the scandal that followed Spain’s women’s win in the summer might harm their chances, after the controversial behaviour of former Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales, which is still subject of ongoing FIFA disciplinary proceedings.
His removal seems to have made the decision much easier.