— Published 24 March 2023

Behind the scenes of a bid on two continents

The information is revealed by the Spanish digital media El Confidencial: the project of a joint bid of Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 World Cup, officially announced last week on the sidelines of the FIFA Congress, was first mentioned back in 2018. At the origin of the idea, the new president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales. Shortly after his election, the Iberian leader reportedly felt that an association with Morocco could help secure some of the votes of Africa. Before moving forward, the Spanish federation asked FIFA to verify the feasibility of a bid carried by two continents. The international body initially responded in the negative, before announcing its decision to amend the article of the regulations prohibiting such a possibility. On September 12, 2018, Lui Rubiales informed the President of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, of his proposal. On the occasion of his first official visit to Rabat, on November 19 of the same year, the Spanish Prime Minister reportedly suggested to the Moroccan authorities the idea of a joint project. Things remained at that point until November 5, 2022, when it was announced that Ukraine would join the candidacy of Spain and Portugal. In the basket, therefore, the option of a file carried by two continents. Last month, the head of the Spanish government visited Morocco again, with a dozen of his ministers. According to El Confidencial, the issue of the 2030 World Cup was not discussed. But the corruption scandal at the Ukrainian Football Federation, where the president was pushed out, has given a fatal blow to the project of a joint bid by the three European countries. The card of Morocco has been pulled out. The Spanish media also reports that Morocco will propose at least three cities: Rabat and Tangier, then a choice of Casablanca, Marrakech or Agadir. Portugal will designate Lisbon and Porto. Spain, on the other hand, would have the biggest slice of the cake, with eleven cities. The Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid would host the opening match and the final.