(Bloomberg) -- Morocco, Portugal and Spain will jointly host the World Cup in 2030, the first time that matches in the most famous football competition will be held in North Africa.
To mark 100 years since the first tournament, the 1930 host and winner Uruguay will stage the opening ceremony and a match, governing body FIFA said. Argentina and Paraguay will also each stage a match, Fifa said, making the competition the first to held on three continents.
“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 Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo,” the organization said.
The competition was traditionally staged by a single country, though that changed in 2002 when Japan and South Korea hosted jointly. The 2026 edition will be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the US, the first time three nations have run the competition.
“We are absolutely thrilled and grateful to FIFA,” Spanish Sports Minister Miquel Iceta said in response to questions from Bloomberg. “We will do our best to host the best World Cup in history.”
Spain and Morocco have a very close but complex diplomatic relationship. Spain is a former colonial power in Morocco, and Moroccans make up the biggest foreign community in Spain. Morocco is also a key gateway for illegal immigration into Spain.
On the pitch, Morocco became the first North African side to reach the semifinals of the World Cup, in Qatar in 2022. The award of the 2030 version is also symbolic for Spain, which in August won the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time.
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay showed interest in recent years to host the entire tournament in 2030 but finally withdrew, in large part due to the cost burden of organizing a World Cup. The men’s competition is the most-watched event in world television, and organizing it tends to require huge investments to refurbish stadiums and improve transportation.
Shortly after FIFA announced the 2030 hosts, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to bid for the 2034 competition. Saudi cash has been reshaping European football, attracting high-profile players to its domestic league and buying England’s Newcastle United.
--With assistance from Alonso Soto.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.