FIFA will have the 2030 World Cup in three continents and six countries after the unprecedented announcement of having Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay each host one game before the rest of the tournament heads to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
The FIFA Council made the announcement on Wednesday. The decision splits the difference between what were the two main competing bids for the 2030 event. All six countries will qualify automatically for the tournament, which will in 2026 be held across North America with 48 teams competing.
It will be the first World Cup to be held across three continents. Following the first three matches, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay will each hold one game before those national teams and their opponents join the rest of the field in Morocco, Spain and Portugal for the remainder of the tournament.
A key lure of the three-continent project is being able to open in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, where the Centenario Stadium hosted the inaugural 1930 World Cup final.
“The centennial World Cup could not be far from South America, where everything began,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of South American soccer body CONMEBOL. “The 2030 World Cup will be played in three continents.”
The original South American proposal was from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile on the 100th anniversary of the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay. The bid from UEFA took several forms during the past year-plus with at one point Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia preparing a bid before Saudi Arabia dropped out. Ukraine was set to join Spain and Portugal in a combined bid before deciding against a formal move together.
“In 2030, we will have a unique global footprint, three continents – Africa, Europe and South America – six countries – Argentina, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay – welcoming and uniting the world while celebrating together the beautiful game, the centenary and the FIFA World Cup,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said.
2034 World Cup Targets Narrowed Down
The consensus reached by once-rival soccer continents also let FIFA fast-track the opening of the 2034 World Cup bidding contest, limited to member federations from Asia and Oceania. The bid regulations were published by FIFA on Wednesday with hosts to be appointed in a future FIFA Congress.
Oceania has never hosted the men’s World Cup although Australia and New Zealand recently co-hosted the Women’s World Cup, won by Spain. Asia has hosted the men’s World Cup before with South Korea and Japan co-hosting in 2002, the first time that two countries shared hosting rights.
But the immediate leading candidate would be Saudi Arabia, which has targeted the 2034 edition. Accelerating the choice of a 2034 host to the end of next year will be widely seen as a victory for Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has built close ties to Infantino.
“We want to celebrate our football culture and share our country with the world,” Yasser Al Misehal, the president of the Saudi soccer federation and a member of the FIFA Council, said in a government statement announcing its intention to bid.
Either way, the 2034 tournament will almost certainly played in November and December like last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Russia Youth Suspension Lifted
Buried in the news was FIFA’s decision to allow the participation of Russian youth teams at U17 girls and boys level conditional on these teams playing under the name of the “Football Union of Russia” rather than “Russia” with no national flag, anthem and on the field, the teams will play in neutral colors instead of their national colors.
The news comes after UEFA’s executive committee recently announced Russia’s under-17 national teams will be allowed to compete in international competition. All Russian teams, at club and international levels, have been barred from UEFA events since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. FIFA followed suit in reiterating its policy for the senior national teams remains.