No hard feelings as Spain officially welcomed Morocco to join a pan Iberian World Cup bid of Spain and Portugal to host the 2030 World Cup.
Morocco, who knocked Spain out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, will join its long time rival Spain to bring the tournament to the three countries spanning two continents.
A statement from the Confederation of African Football said that “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.”
The bid, which has been mooted before has always fallen foul of the sometimes tense relations between Spain and Morocco over such issues as illegal immigration into the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa and last year´s diplomatic stand-offs over the Western Sahara and Algerian gas pipelines.
The winning bid to host the 2030 World Cup is expected to be announced in September 2024.
Other countries bidding include a Latin American consortium of Uruguay-Argentina-Chile-Paraguay and an Arabic one led by Saudi Arabia.
The United States, Canada and Mexico are hosting the 2026 tournament
The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said it will mean the Iberian bid has been strengthened and “puts this bid in a better position to win the race,” he said in a joint press conference with the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa.
The two Iberian leaders were meeting in Lanzarote for the 34th Summit between the two countries.
Costa echoed Sanchez’ remarks, stressing that the bid sends a “very important message to the whole world, to Europe and to Africa. We are two neighboring continents that want to work together.”
He added, “Through this candidacy, what we want is to celebrate sport together by defending a fair and balanced competition.”
Chakib Benmoussa, Morocco’s Minister of Sports, announced the news through a written message to King Mohammed VI.
It is thought that with the addition of Morocco, the 50 plus African countries will be more likely to vote for the bid – especially in the absence of any other African bid.
The last time the African continent hosted the tournament was in 2010 in South Africa which saw Spain win for the first time.