Morocco, Spain and Portugal have been named hosts of the 2030 FIFA World Cup, while Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will host the opening matches to mark the tournament’s centenary.
World football body FIFA disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, even though they were due to announce the hosts next year.
The joint bid from Morocco, Portugal and Spain was the sole candidate to host the tournament.
The inaugural World Cup in 1930 was held in Uruguay and won by the hosts.
Wednesday’s decision by FIFA marks the first time the World Cup will be staged across three continents and by six countries.
This may mean the competition’s 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.
”The hosts will 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 which was held in Uruguay, the FIFA Council further unanimously agreed to host a unique centenary celebration ceremony.
”This will be in the country’s capital, Montevideo…
“This means three World Cup matches will hold in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.”
The 2022 World Cup was held in Qatar, and Argentina are the defending champions.
In a reaction, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said their team “will play the first match of the 2030 group stage at home and with its people”.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino also said: “In a divided world, FIFA and football are uniting.
“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 organise 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 he did not clarify what that would mean for the South American qualifiers.
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 on his part welcomed FIFA’s decision.
The African country had 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 would be held in the Asia or Oceania region, with member-associations from those territories invited to bid to host the tournament.(Reuters/NAN)