Football: how Morocco became co-organizer of the 2030 World Cup

The official announcement by the International Football Federation (FIFA) of the countries which will organize the 2030 World Cup should not take place until December 2024

Football: how Morocco became co-organizer of the 2030 World Cup

The official announcement by the International Football Federation (FIFA) of the countries which will organize the 2030 World Cup should not take place until December 2024. The suspense, however, ended on Wednesday October 4. The competition will be played for the first time on three continents: mainly in Morocco, Spain and Portugal, but three first round matches will also take place in South America.

The information came while a videoconference meeting was underway between Fouzi Lekjaa, Pedro Rocha Junco and Fernando Soares Gomes da Silva, respectively presidents of the Moroccan, Spanish and Portuguese federations. This was to allow them to discuss their joint candidacy for the organization of the 2030 World Cup, until South America upset the initial calendar.

Alejandro Dominguez, the president of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol), had just announced that the subcontinent would host three first round matches. Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay had submitted a joint application file to host the centenary of the World Cup, the first edition having taken place in Uruguay in 1930. The Argentine federation immediately confirmed, imitating a few minutes later by FIFA.

A centenary ceremony will therefore take place in Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, then Argentina and Paraguay will each organize a first round meeting. “The presidents of the Spanish, Portuguese and Moroccan federations were aware. It was logical to leave it to the South Americans to announce this information,” explains a Moroccan source.

Five-time candidate

But it is the trio made up of Morocco, Spain and Portugal who emerge as the big winners from this lively day, since they will host 101 of the 104 matches in the final phase.

The Shereef kingdom had applied five times to organize the tournament (1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2026), but always on an individual basis. In March in Rwanda, during the FIFA congress, he announced that he was joining the duo made up of Portugal and Spain, an initiative quickly supported by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Union of European Football Associations. (UEFA). In 2019, there was already talk of a Spain-Portugal-Morocco trio, but at that time Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, declared himself opposed to the World Cup being organized on two different continents.

During 2022, Spain and Portugal had considered joining forces with Ukraine, attacked by Russian troops, but the project had not gone further than a simple declaration of intent. The Spanish and Portuguese then approached Morocco to submit a tripartite application. The first discussions took place at the highest political level in the three countries during the second half of 2022, a candidacy for the organization of a World Cup can only be validated with the agreements of the governments concerned. King Mohammed VI quickly gave a favorable opinion to the project.

The Spanish-Portuguese approach was able to rely on official relations maintained with Morocco. After a ten-month quarrel between June 2021 and April 2022, marked by a breakdown in diplomatic relations, relations between Spain and Morocco have clearly warmed up, particularly in the commercial field, in the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration and on the question of Western Sahara, Madrid having aligned its positions with those of Rabat. The recent visits of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, to Morocco, where he notably met his counterpart, Aziz Akhannouch, made it possible to advance the file of this tripartite candidacy.

“The case is very strong”

The three countries, geographically close, politically stable and considered safe, also decided to join forces because of the quality of their respective infrastructures. They have numerous stadiums approved by FIFA, functional training centers, significant housing capacities, hospitals, highways and several international airports, all criteria required in the specifications established by FIFA .

“Spain, Morocco and Portugal, which are major football countries and are used to organizing international competitions, are very popular tourist destinations. They are well equipped to accommodate hundreds of thousands of visitors. In summary, there will be almost nothing to build, just a few small jobs here and there. The file is very solid,” boasts a source close to the Moroccan federation.

A next meeting between the three federations is scheduled for the end of October. It will notably focus on the distribution of the 101 matches. In the first round, Spain could host six groups, Portugal and Morocco three each. The allocation of knockout matches should be fairer. The Shereef kingdom wants to host the opening match in the 93,000-seat stadium it plans to build near Casablanca, and Spain the final.

Morocco, which has been awarded the organization of the 2025 African Cup of Nations (CAN), will present five or six stadiums in its file: in addition to the new Casablanca setting, Tangier, Agadir, Rabat, Fez and Marrakech are regularly cited.