Morocco to bid for World Cup 2030 with Spain, Portugal
King Mohammed VI of Morocco has announced his country are to make a bid to co-host the 2030 World Cup, joining forces with their neighbours from across the Mediterranean, Spain and Portugal.
They would be the second African nation to host the finals after South Africa in 2010, but will face strong opposition from a South American bid, and possibly a Saudi Arabian-led coalition featuring Greece and Egypt.
Morocco, a regular bidder for the finals, had originally planned to go it alone. The Iberian pair, meanwhile, had first planned a joint bid. In October last year they expanded it to include Ukraine, a geographically ambitious move but one with obvious political aspects.
Now the three nations have made the logical choice to combine bids leaving Ukraine to concentrate on repelling Russia's invasion and subsequently rebuilding.
The monarch's revelation was made in Kigali, Rwanda, in a speech read on his behalf by education and sports minister Chakib Benmousa at a ceremony of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) which offered the king its outstanding achievement award.
"I would like to announce that the Kingdom of Morocco has decided, together with Spain and Portugal, to present a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup," the King's statement said.
"This joint bid, which is unprecedented in football history, will bring together Africa and Europe, the northern and southern Mediterranean, and the African, Arab and Euro-Mediterranean worlds."
Morocco have made five unsuccessful solo hosting bids dating back to 1994. Their candidacy this time has been aided by their team's impressive display in Qatar last year when they became the first African side to reach the semi-finals.
The African nation also hosted last month's Club World Cup, last year's African Women's Cup of Nations, the 2018 African Cup of Nations and the 2019 African Games.
There is one other confirmed joint bid for the 2030 finals from South American nations Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay. The latter hosted the first World Cup finals in 1930 but this emotional tie may not be enough for a bid whose confederation carries only ten votes.
Saudi Arabia, encouraged by the success of Qatar's World Cup, have been exploring the possibility of bidding with Greece and Egypt.
That would split the European and African voting blocs but would necessitate another winter World Cup, which would not be popular with leading players or the main European leagues that employ them.
The hosting decision is expected to be made in about 18 months time.
- with Reuters