Saturday, June 3, 2023
Saturday, June 3, 2023

Why the Spain-Portugal-Morocco bid for the 2030 World Cup could win the day

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Mohammed VI was not present in Kigali on Tuesday March 14 to receive a prize awarded by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), ahead of the FIFA Congress which saw Gianni Infantino be re-elected two days later for a term of office. four years. But the Moroccan sovereign sent a message that did not go unnoticed, through Chakib Benmoussa, the Minister of National Education, Preschool and Sports and who represented him in Rwanda. The latter has indeed announced that the kingdom has partnered with Spain and Portugal to host the 2030 World Cup.

Initially, the Spaniards and the Portuguese had considered, in October 2021, to associate Ukraine with their candidacy. But the invasion of the country by Russia in February 2022 and the uncertainties weighing on the duration of the war launched by Vladimir Putin have modified the initial plans. Indeed, FIFA will announce in 2024 who will organize this 2030 World Cup, and the body obviously cannot take the risk of entrusting a country which will potentially be at war in 2024 with World Cup matches.

Apart from the candidacy composed of the trio Spain-Portugal-Morocco, FIFA took note of that of the South American quartet Argentina-Chile-Paraguay-Uruguay. On the other hand, the one mentioned last September and bringing together Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Greece has not yet been tabled.

A 48-team World Cup that changes the game

Morocco, which had applied for the 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2026 editions, knows that its chances of hosting a World Cup are strengthened within the framework of a tripartite bid. Indeed, from 2026, the competition will concern 48 selections (compared to 32 in 2022 in Qatar) , for a period of more than five weeks and a total of 104 matches, i.e. 40 more than for a tournament with 32. With a such a format, it will be increasingly difficult for a single country, with a few exceptions, to meet the new requirements imposed by Fifa. Thus, for the 2026 edition, which will take place in the United States, Mexico and Canada, sixteen stadiums (11 in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada) have been selected in as many cities.

On paper, the Mediterranean dossier is attractive. The three countries are very close geographically, maintain good diplomatic relations, are easily accessible, and reputed to be politically secure and stable. They are also very well endowed with hotels (the three states are very popular tourist destinations) and hospitals, the transport and communication networks are modern and efficient, as are the sports infrastructures. 

Morocco has several stadiums to FIFA standards (40,000 seats minimum): Agadir, Fez, Marrakech, Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca. This is also the case in Spain, with three enclosures in Seville, two in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​and others in Valencia, Bilbao, and in Portugal (two in Lisbon, one in Porto), others, more small, can be enlarged.

The South American candidacy seems more complex. Four countries, whose economies are not flourishing, huge territories and therefore long and expensive trips for supporters, all at a time of year (June-July) when the temperatures, austral winter requires, are cold. “It’s a romantic candidacy, underlines Vincent Chaudel, president of the Sport Business Observatory. South America is a land of football and the first World Cup took place in Uruguay, one of the four countries concerned, in 1930. It would be beautiful and symbolic, but there are above all economic considerations to take into account. »


“It is the Europeans who spend the most on TV broadcasting rights for a World Cup, and these TV rights are an essential source of income for Fifa. However, a World Cup in South America, these are incompatible schedules for European viewers, who will already have to adapt for the 2026 edition. This is why the Spain-Portugal-Morocco bid has a lot of trumps. »

Financial argument

Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa , knows it, but his execrable relations with the Slovenian Aleksander Čeferin, the boss of European football, are also to be taken into account. “UEFA generates 15 billion dollars in turnover per year, against 7.5 billion for Fifa, which plans to increase to 11 billion. This is why Infantino, who had certainly promised a World Cup to the South Americans, is not insensitive to a Saudi Arabia-Greece-Egypt candidacy, which would rest above all on the Saudis, whose economic power is immense. », continues Vincent Chaudel.

The choice of countries that will host the 2030 World Cup will also be played out behind the scenes. Morocco should attract a large majority of African votes, thanks to the kingdom’s sports diplomacy, which has notably resulted in the signing of 45 partnerships with sub-Saharan federations.

“He also remembers that Čeferin and several European countries had voted for Morocco for the 2026 edition, intervenes a former member of Fifa on condition of anonymity. The Spain-Morocco-Portugal candidacy will garner many votes in Europe, Africa, and potentially in Asia. Mohammed VI pulled off a great coup by associating his country with Spain and Portugal. If Saudi Arabia is a candidate with Greece and Egypt, one thing should not be overlooked: Morocco’s allies will do no favors for the Saudis, who had voted for the United States-Canada-Mexico trio for 2026. They haven’t forgotten it. Finally, Egypt and Greece weigh very little in Africa and Europe. »

The verdict will be known during the year 2024…


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