A unique 2030 World Cup is set to be played in Europe and Africa with the surprising addition of South America in a deal to allow the men’s soccer tournament to start with a 100th birthday celebration in Uruguay.
FIFA reached an agreement Wednesday between soccer’s continental leaders to accept only one candidate for hosting the 2030 tournament, the sport’s governing body said.
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The Spain-Portugal bid grew to add Morocco this year and now also includes longtime bid rivals Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
A key lure of the unprecedented three-continent project will be opening in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, where the Centenario Stadium hosted the inaugural 1930 World Cup final.
“The centennial World Cup could not be far from South America, where everything began,” said Alejandro Domínguez, president of South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL. “The 2030 World Cup will be played in three continents.”
The consensus reached by once-rival soccer continents also let FIFA fast-track opening the 2034 World Cup bidding contest Wednesday; the bidding is limited to member federations from Asia and Oceania.
“In a divided world, FIFA and football are uniting,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“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, precisely to celebrate the centenary edition of the FIFA World Cup.
“The FIFA Council also agreed unanimously that the only bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2030 will be the joint bid of Morocco, Portugal and Spain,” the FIFA president added. “Two continents — Africa and Europe — united not only in a celebration of football but also in providing unique social and cultural cohesion. What a great message of peace, tolerance and inclusion.
“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.”
Saudi Arabia has targeted the 2034 edition, and Australia also is interested after successfully co-hosting the Women’s World Cup this year with New Zealand.
The FIFA Council’s acceptance of a unified 2030 candidacy still needs formal approval next year at a meeting of the 211 member federations. That should be just a formality.
The 48-team, 104-game tournament scheduled for June-July 2030 is expected to start with games in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay before the action moves to core host nations Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
The South American co-host bid has been promoted since the 2018 World Cup in Russia and had included Chile, which was not mentioned Wednesday.
Ukraine also was added to the European bid a year ago at a news conference at UEFA headquarters in Switzerland. However, Ukraine has not been mentioned in official comments about the UEFA-backed bid this year.
The first 48-team men’s World Cup will be hosted in 2026 by the United States, Canada and Mexico.