Fifa has announced the extraordinary decision to host the World Cup in 2030 across three continents to celebrate the centenary of the tournament in South America.
Morocco, Portugal and Spain have been confirmed as joint-hosts of the finals in seven years’ time but games will also take place in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay, meaning the tournament will be in six countries.
“Having taken into account the historical context of the first-ever Fifa World Cup, the Fifa Council further unanimously agreed to host a unique centenary celebration ceremony in the country’s [Uruguay] capital, Montevideo, where the first-ever Fifa World Cup took place, in 2030, as well as three World Cup matches in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay respectively,” Fifa confirmed.
The decision has paved the way for the 2034 tournament to be in the Asia or Oceania region, with Saudi Arabia confirming they will be bidding.
Fifa will inevitably risk criticism for hosting matches thousands of miles apart. There is a page dedicated to sustainability on the world governing body’s website, while fans will face increased costs to fly to different continents.
“In a divided world, Fifa and football are uniting,” president Gianni Infantino said. “The Fifa Council, representing the entire world of football, unanimously agreed to celebrate the centenary of the Fifa World Cup, whose first edition was played in Uruguay in 1930, in the most appropriate way.
“As a result, a celebration will take place in South America and three South American countries – Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay – will organise one match each of the Fifa World Cup 2030.
The first of these three matches will of course be played at the stadium where it all began, in Montevideo’s mythical Estádio Centenário, precisely to celebrate the centenary edition of the Fifa World Cup.”
Infantino described the tournament as having “a unique global footprint”.
Meanwhile, Fifa has confirmed that Russia’s Under-17 teams will be allowed back in its tournaments following the decision from Uefa to allow them back into European football.
“The Fifa Council approved an extension of this decision to the Fifa U-17 World Cup and Fifa U-17 Women’s World Cup for which Uefa’s competitions serve as a qualification pathway, thus lifting the suspension on teams from Russia taking part in these tournaments,” it confirmed.