(Photo credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)
The World Cup will be very different when the 2030 edition rolls around.
FIFA and global soccer leaders reached agreement Wednesday to accept one bidder that grew from Spain-Portugal to include Morocco, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in a tournament that is set to be played on three continents in six countries.
Among the key considerations was finding a way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the World Cup in Uruguay, where the inaugural tourney final was held in 1930.
Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay are targeted to host kickoff matches to begin the 2030 World Cup, with a specific aim to play in Montevideo, capital of Uruguay and home of the 1930 Cup final.
"The centennial World Cup could not be far from South America, where everything began," said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of South American soccer body CONMEBOL. "The 2030 World Cup will be played in three continents."
FIFA will allow all six of those countries' national teams to receive automatic entries, and Morocco will be the first North Africa nation to host the event.
The 2030 decision has sped up the process of finding a home for the 2034 World Cup, which is to be held in Asia or Oceania, likely in November and December.
Saudi Arabia now becomes the primary candidate for the 2034 edition.
The 2030 FIFA agreement still must meet formal approval in 2024 during a meeting of the 211 member federations.
"In 2030," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement, "we will have a unique global footprint, three continents -- Africa, Europe and South America -- six countries -- Argentina, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay -- welcoming and uniting the world while celebrating together the beautiful game, the centenary and the FIFA World Cup."
The current size of the World Cup, 32 teams, moves to 48 beginning with the 2026 event that will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Football Supporters Europe, a fan group that the Union of European Football Associations officially recognizes, expressed its displeasure with the great lengths of travel to be required in 2030 and believes that will promote Saudi Arabia's 2034 candidacy.
"FIFA continues its cycle of destruction against the greatest tournament on earth," an FSE statement said. "Horrendous for supporters, disregards the environment and rolls the red carpet out to a host for 2034 with an appalling human rights record."
The 104-match 2030 tournament is set to run in June and July.
--Field Level Media