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Report: Morocco to join Spain-Portugal 2030 World Cup bid in place of Ukraine

War-torn Ukraine unlikely to be ready to host tournament matches in seven years’ time.

13 March 2023 Josh Sim

Getty Images

  • Morocco has previously made five unsuccessful World Cup hosting bids
  • Successful bid would make Morocco the first North African nation to host World Cup games

Morocco will replace Ukraine in Spain and Portugal’s joint bid to host the 2030 Fifa World Cup, according to The Athletic.

In June 2021, Spain and Portugal confirmed they would make a joint bid for the tournament, having missed out with a previous effort for the 2018 World Cup that was ultimately hosted by Russia.

Last October, approximately seven months on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it was confirmed that the country would be joining the bid after an agreement was reached between Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the Spanish and Portuguese governments.

However, the conflict with Russia has shown no signs of slowing down, with Ukraine recently devastated by a new wave of hypersonic missile strikes launched by Russia. As a result, it appears increasingly unlikely that the war-torn nation will be in a position to host games for soccer’s flagship international tournament in seven years’ time.

There is also uncertainty surrounding the leadership at the Ukrainian Football Association (UAF), whose president Andriy Pavelko was arrested in November for his alleged involvement in fraud and money laundering operations. Pavelko recently appealed against a proposed suspension issued by a Ukrainian court. The federation has also insisted he will remain as its head and that he will resume his campaign for reelection on the Uefa Executive Committee.

Morocco has previously failed with five bids to host the World Cup, with its most recent attempt for the 2026 edition unsuccessful against the joint proposal by Canada, Mexico and the US. Should it be successful in its latest effort, it would become the first North African nation to host World Cup games.

The short distance between Morocco and Spain may make the new alliance more attractive, with the two countries separated by less than 1,000 miles. Morocco’s is also a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Athletic reports that a joint European-African bid is viewed as a potential vote winner.

However, the bid faces stiff competition from the South American quartet of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Though not yet confirmed, a joint bid is also expected from Saudi Arabia, Greece and Egypt, with the Gulf nation reportedly intending to host three-quarters of the tournament’s matches.

The hosts of the 2030 edition will be confirmed in 2024 at the 74th Fifa Congress.

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