Morocco, Spain and Portugal have been named hosts of the 2030 soccer World Cup, while Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will host the opening matches to mark the tournament's centenary, world soccer body FIFA said on Wednesday.
The 2030 World Cup will be hosted in SIX different countries, on THREE different continents:Uruguay: opening game
Argentina: opening game
Paraguay: opening game
All host countries will automatically qualify. pic.twitter.com/Bk36btmkBR
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 4, 2023
The joint bid from Morocco, Portugal and Spain was the sole candidate to host the tournament. FIFA were due to announce the hosts next year.
The inaugural World Cup in 1930 was held in Uruguay and won by the hosts. Spain have been awarded the World Cup weeks after their disgraced former chief Luis Rubiales was forced to step down for alleged sexual assault at the Women's World Cup.
Wednesday's decision by FIFA marks the first time the World Cup will be staged across three continents and six countries, which might mean group matches will have to be held in different seasons based on the hemisphere.
"The FIFA Council unanimously agreed that the sole candidacy will be the combined bid of Morocco, Portugal, and Spain, which will host the event in 2030 and qualify automatically from the existing slot allocation," FIFA said in a statement.
"Additionally, having taken into account the historical context of the first-ever FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Council further unanimously agreed to host a unique centenary celebration ceremony in the country's capital, Montevideo... as well as three World Cup matches in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay respectively."
FIFA Council takes key decisions on FIFA World Cup™ editions in 2030 and 2034: Morocco, Portugal and Spain joint bid is the sole candidate to host FIFA World Cup 2030™
➡️https://t.co/cKJec1tIE4 pic.twitter.com/mwLRerCIlg— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) October 4, 2023
The 2022 World Cup was held in Qatar. Argentina are the defending champions.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) said their team "will play the first match of the 2030 group stage at home and with its people".
"In a divided world, FIFA and football are uniting," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.
"The FIFA Council... 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 organize one match each of the FIFA World Cup 2030."
Infantino said the first of these three matches would be played at Montevideo's Estadio Centenario, where the first World Cup took place in 1930.
Robert Harrison, the president of the Paraguayan Football Association, said Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay would automatically qualify for the World Cup but did not clarify what that would mean for the South American qualifiers.
WORLD CUP RETURNS TO SPAIN
While Portugal and Morocco have never hosted the World Cup, Spain last hosted the tournament in 1982.
Pedro Rocha, President of the Management Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, said they were excited to bring it back to the country, who won the World Cup in 2010.
"I am sure that together with Morocco and Portugal we will organise the best World Cup in history," he said.
Fernando Gomes, the president of the Portuguese Football Federation, said: "Each of our countries brings a vibrant footballing tradition, unrivalled organisational experience and a capacity for innovation that will undoubtedly leave its mark on the future of the competition."
Morocco's King Mohammed VI welcomed FIFA's decision. The African nation stunned the world in Qatar last year when they reached the semi-finals.
"His Majesty King Mohammed VI... has the great pleasure of announcing to the Moroccan people that the FIFA Council has unanimously selected the Morocco-Spain-Portugal bid as the sole candidate to organise the 2030 football World Cup," Morocco's Royal Office said in a statement.
FIFA also said that the 2034 World Cup will be held in the Asia or Oceania region, with member associations from those territories invited to bid to host the tournament.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Daniela Desantis in Asuncion, Additional reporting by Osama Khairy and Emma Pinedo Gonzalez; Editing by William Maclean and Christian Radnedge)