Saudi Arabia is considering abandoning its bid to host the 2030 World Cup. A boon for Morocco, which submitted its bid alongside Spain and Portugal.
Africa hosted its first ever World Cup in 2010. It was in South Africa and Pretoria won after intense lobbying. It was, after the World Cups in Europe and Asia, and before South America, to honor Africa.
“If several African countries expressed their interest in the event, Morocco and South Africa were the two most serious African candidates to decide between, wrote Thierry Vircoulon at the time. In the end, South Africa won thanks to its lobbying and its pugnacity but also thanks to its proven experience in major sports championships”. Since Pretoria had already hosted the Rugby and Cricket World Cups, in 1995 and 2003 respectively.
Morocco does not seem to have said its last word. It's no secret: the Cherifian kingdom has positioned itself to host CAN 2025, once promised to Guinea, but would also see itself as one of the host countries of the 2030 World Cup. Indeed, Rabat has teamed up with Spain and Portugal to host the World Cup which will take place in seven years.
South American countries in ambush
If, for a time, Morocco believed that its chances were dwindling, with a competing candidacy carried by Saudi Arabia, Greece and Egypt, everything now seems favorable to the kingdom. Riyadh would indeed have decided to abandon its candidacy, to let the Morocco-Spain-Portugal trio hang on to the organization of the World Cup.
For the Saudi crown prince, there is no question of losing. However, the candidacy carried by the two European countries and by Morocco seemed to be ahead. In particular because Qatar, a neighbor of the Saudi kingdom, has just hosted its World Cup and FIFA deviates little from its principle of alternating continents. Egypt also seemed increasingly reluctant to present its candidacy. Riyadh could therefore, to avoid losing face, withdraw for 2030 and try to hang on to the organization of the World Cup in 2034.
It remains to be seen whether Morocco will be able to achieve one of its dreams. Because despite a slight advantage, the South American candidacy, made up of the Argentina-Uruguay-Chile-Paraguay quartet, intends to play the spoilsport. The names of the organizing countries will be announced during the FIFA Congress in September 2024.