Morocco, Spain and Portugal have been named host of the 2030 World Cup though Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will host the opening three matches of the tournament as part of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the global event.
A FIFA statement released this Wednesday announced the decision to have the first FIFA World Cup in three continents which either Morocco, Spain or Portugal will stage the opening game.
After the first three matches, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and their three opponents will then travel to Morocco, Spain and Portugal for the remainder of the tournament.
The move means all six countries will qualify for the tournament as hosts as Morocco finally gets the rights to host.
Morocco committed to taking part in the 2030 bid more than four years ago, immediately after losing the vote for the 2026 tournament. It was in talks with the Iberian nations for a while, but had never been officially included in the bid.
In February this year, Morocco hosted FIFA’s Club World Cup which further emphasized their aptitude in management of big events.
The co-hosting from South America and Europe have been the expected favourites over the years but this time around Africa gets it’s piece.
What has changed since 2018
The North African country has entered the bid every time that it was eligible since 1994. This success in their sixth attempt to host the competition is the highlight of persistency.
The idea that Morocco could co-host the 2030 World Cup with near-neighbors Spain and Portugal seemed a bit crazy when it floated four years ago. This idea became concrete a few months ago when CAF backed it and was reemphasized when CAF announced Morocco as the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations hosts nation.
“We wanted this organization to be shared between the African continent and the European continent,” Fouzi Lekjaa told The Associated Press in an interview. His dream has been realized.
That Morocco and Spain are so geographically close — “We are only 14 kilometers (less than 10 miles) away” Lekjaa noted — is the core appeal of any joint that has now been approved.
Morocco is also building influence in African soccer and winning admirers globally for the $65 million (40 billion FCFA) Mohammed VI Football Center, which is a training base for players, coaches, referees and officials.
“Morocco’s policy has made us an important partner for all African countries. We are present in partnerships in money and business, and also in sports,” Lekjaa once said.
Under his leadership since 2014, the Moroccan federation tried to professionalize management at its clubs, install more natural grass pitches and create regional youth training bases.
Casablanca-based team Wydad, benefited from this strategy, winning Africa’s Champions League in May 2022 and finishing runners-up in 2023.
Regragui was installed as the coach of Morocco’s national team three months before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Lekjaa emphasizing that the national team that beat Portugal in the World Cup featured seven players from Moroccan clubs.
“There is no reason for European teams to be better than us,” Lekjaa said. “They are now better than us because they work in professional ways, and this is what we seek.”
“It sends an important message to the entire world and especially Europe and Africa, since it says that we are two neighbouring continents, two continents that want to work together,” he added.
What Morocco stands to gain from hosting its first World Cup event
The World Cup is a national priority for our government,” said Moulay Hafid Elalamy, candidature chairman for Morocco’s 2026 World Cup bid, prior to its failure in June last year. So it would seem.
Morocco holds the undesirable title of most World Cup bids without success. Its most recent bid missed out by a large margin to the triumvirate of Canada, Mexico and the US, perhaps causing some to question why Morocco keeps bothering with what appears to be a futile pursuit.
The 2018 event was the fifth-time the Atlas Lions had been defeated. The 1994 edition was their first World Cup rodeo, when they lost to the US by a mere three votes. Following this slim defeat, they entered the 1998 process, in which they were pitted against England, Switzerland, Germany, and France. After a few withdrawals, only Morocco and France remained, but again the Moroccans lost, this time by 12 votes to seven.
The process for the 2010 World Cup was arguably their best shot at a World Cup, with the rotation system in place to ensure the World Cup took place in Africa. After Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya’s bids faltered, Morocco and South Africa were the only two left.
The latter came out on top, winning 14 votes to 10. Regardless, South Africa hosted the inaugural African World Cup.
Despite these disappointments, Morocco pitched another bid for the 2026 World Cup. Their bid focussed on Moroccan passion for football, the accessibility of a schedule close to European time zones, and the conveniently compact geolocation of potential match venues. The United bid, crucially, was more infrastructurally sound and offered an estimated windfall of $14bn (8,5 trillion FCFA) for FIFA, $2bn (1,2 trillion FCFA) more than the Moroccan bid.
The North Africans’ bid was handily defeated – 134 votes to 65.
However, their fervour for World Cup fever didn’t show any signs of slackening until they got the 2030 tournament host right.
Throughout the reign, of King Mohammed VI he has enacted a number of schemes in order to revamp the sport throughout Morocco. Six Mohammed VI football academies have been built since 2010. No less than 832 social and sport community complexes are to be constructed over the next few years. The monarch certainly recognises the usefulness of sport as a regenerative tool domestically.
The successful tournament bid portrayed it as a potential catalyst for economic and cultural change.
Hosting a World Cup offers opportunities, above all else.
Infrastructural, international, domestic, reputational, political, economic. It’s an opportunity to address numerous aims in one fell swoop. The World Cup host has a chance to ‘image-leverage’, a term coined by academic Jonathan Grix, which essentially means to improve one’s image in the global spotlight by challenging stereotypes and negative opinions. During almost every major tournament, the host nation will attempt to espouse a certain image of itself.
The tournament also offers an opportunity for infrastructural development. In their 2026 bid, the Moroccan football federation planned to spend $19.4bn (12 trillion FCFA) and build nine stadiums nationwide, including a 93,000-seater behemoth in Casablanca to host the final. World Cups also offer an opportunity to improve transport infrastructure in the host nation; roads, airports, and public transport links are all necessary for successful hosting, and thus tend to compose a sizeable part of a tournament’s proposed budget. As part of Morocco’s 2026 bid, for example, over $1bn (612 billion FCFA) of road developments were proposed.
The Moroccan 2030 bid cites national unity and cohesion as a significant reason for its bid. Described as a “land where football passions run through every vein”, the national togetherness incurred by a World Cup would be reminiscent of that felt throughout Morocco’s performance at the 2022 tournament, where they reached the semifinal for the first time in history, putting in spirited performances against Spain and Portugal. Such national unity can have a domino effect upon nationalism, and thus regime stability.
The repeated bids are symptomatic of Morocco’s insatiable desire for football. From twilight games on Mediterranean beaches to the diaspora of Spanish football fans spread throughout city cafes during Clásicos, to the scarlet walls of fans that line the populated stadiums during international games, Morocco is a nation obsessed with the beautiful game.
Its acquisition of the 2014, 2015 and 2023 Club World Cups and the 2016 and 2017 IAAF Diamond League are steps in the right direction, but Morocco could do more to increase its host nation Curriculum vitae.
Morocco have plenty in their favour on the pitch going into the 2030 FIFA World Cup hosting process.
This move toward an intercontinental tournament is a step in the right direction. Both Spain (1982 World Cup) and Portugal (2004 European Championship) have experience of hosting major tournaments, as well as grand football reputations internationally while Uruguay hosted and won the 1930 tournament as well as Paraguay is the host nation of CONCACAF.
The joint hosting responsibility also offers an opportunity to increase links between Morocco South America and Europe, and further Morocco’s popularity as a tourist destination. Morocco is already an associated country of the EU and holds advanced status under the European Neighbourhood Policy.
Moreover, this opens possibility on a global scale, as Morocco can increase its profile as a diplomatic gateway to Europe for North African countries, whilst strengthening its economic ties with Portugal and Spain, the latter of which recently became Morocco’s leading economic partner.
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