Morocco join Iberian bid in power play for 2030 World Cup hosting

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By Andrew Warshaw, Chief Correspondent

March 15 – After no fewer than five failures, an unenviable record, Morocco believe they have finally found a way to stage the World Cup.

The North African nation will join forces with Spain and Portugal in three-way bid to host the 2030 tournament – a move that could well secure enough votes to get over the line.

The Iberian neighbours had initially been joined by Ukraine as a potential partner for their 2030 bid but with the latter’s war with Russia having no end in sight, Morocco have stepped in to roll the dice again.

The announcement, which raised further doubts about Ukraine’s participation, was made through a statement signed by King Mohammed VI and read out at a meeting of the Confederation of African Football on the eve of the FIFA Congress in Rwanda.

“The Kingdom of Morocco has decided, together with Spain and Portugal, to present a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup,” the 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. It will also bring out the best in all of us — in effect, a combination of genius, creativity, experience, and means.”

Morocco has long felt hard done by over its failed attempts to stage the World Cup – in 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2026.

Officials will hope that the country’s performances on the field in Qatar, where they became the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals, will act as a strong catalyst at the sixth time of asking. So, perhaps, will the fact that last month Morocco successfully hosted the Club World Cup.

Early last year there was some speculation that the Moroccans may line up alongside Algeria and Tunisia for 2030. But joining Spain and Portugal in an inter-continental bid with historical cultural ties is likely to give them a far better chance.

It should certainly swing most of Africa’s 54 votes behind the bid, as well as Europe’s 55, in the process reaching the 106 that are needed to win the right to host.

A spokesman for the Spanish football federation told AFP it would meet its Portuguese and Moroccan counterparts in Kigali today but made no mention of Ukraine.

“The presidents will announce any news regarding the candidacy for the 2030 World Cup in Kigali,” the spokesman said.

If the three-way bid is successful – the ballot among FIFA nations is expected in September next year – Morocco would be the second African country, after South Africa in 2010, to host the tournament and the first from the north of the Continent.

Their sixth bid would appear to leave Saudi Arabia’s efforts to host in considerable jeopardy but would by no means be a shoo-in.

Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay have submitted a four-nation bid and have emotional and sentimental clout on their side, 2030 being the centenary of the first ever World Cup – staged in Uruguay.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1713813891labto1713813891ofdlr1713813891owedi1713813891sni@w1713813891ahsra1713813891w.wer1713813891dna1713813891