By Andrew Warshaw
June 10 – Battle lines have been drawn in the race to stage the 2030 World Cup with the Spanish FA confirming, after months of speculation, that they and Portugal are seriously considering making a joint bid.
Interestingly, no mention has been made of Morocco who were previously said to be involved in discussions with the Iberian neighbours in a cross-Continental bid.
“After holding several meetings, the football federations of Spain and Portugal can confirm that they are set to begin an in-depth analysis of the possibility of presenting a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup,” said a joint statement.
“Both federations would like to take this opportunity to state that the governments of both countries have been properly informed about this process, given that they will have a key part to play in its development.”
Spain last hosted the World Cup in 1982 whereas Portugal have never hosted a World Cup, although they did host the 2004 European Championship.
The announcement represents a significant challenge for a possible British and Irish initiative to stage the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.
Like England, Spain and Portugal jointly lost out to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and current UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin has made it clear he favours only one European submission for 2030.
At present, South America are the favourites to land the centenary of the tournament that was first staged in Uruguay in 1930. Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay want to stage what would be the first ever four-nation World Cup.
The host for the 2030 event will most likely be announced in Qatar during the 2022 World Cup. Last week, British and Irish officials met in Paris on the fringes of the FIFA Congress to discuss their plans for bidding though no firm decision has yet been taken.
The discussions followed a private meeting with Ceferin at Wembley back in April.
England’s last World Cup bid, for 2018, was a humiliation with only two votes, with one of those coming from the FA’s own representative on FIFA’s now-defunct executive committee.
Although under the current rotation system the tournament should come back to Europe in 2030, China are the elephant in the room
Last week FIFA president Gianni infantino suggested the rule, which theoretically should prevent an Asian bid for 2030 because of Qatar being hosts eight years beforehand, could be scrapped. “We will discuss this at our next FIFA Council meeting in October, which is in Shanghai,” said Infantino.
FIFA has made no secret of its backing for China, which with its commercial clout rapidly took the opportunity to buys its way into the global picture becoming the key commercial underpinning of the world governing body’s financial performance when its traditional sponsors started to pull back and the Russia 2018 World Cup failed to attract major new sponsorships from the west. China is odds-on favourite to stage the 2024 Club World Cup when the tournament is expanded to 24 teams.
The Chinese would almost certainly then be favourites for the 2034 World Cup if they miss out four years earlier.
FIFA has yet to announce a formal bidding process for 2030 or when the final decision will be made.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org