2030 World Cup: Casablanca likely to host opening game, Madrid to host final

Published on: 25 April 2024
2030 World Cup: Casablanca likely to host opening game, Madrid to host final
Conceptual design for the grand Casablanca stadium

The 2030 FIFA World Cup may be six years away, but the jostling for position among the three host countries - Morocco, Spain, and Portugal - has already begun.

According to a report by Jeune Afrique, the division of the tournament’s matches has become a central point of negotiation, with each nation vying for a piece of the spotlight. The report notes Morocco is favored to host the opening match while Spain is favored to host the final.

On October 28, 2023, in Rabat, the leaders of the football federations of Spain, Morocco, and Portugal signed a letter of intent, marking a key step in the process of bidding to host the 2030 World Cup.

Other countries besides the hosts are set to hold matches. Three matches will be held in South America - one in Montevideo, in Uruguay, where the first World Cup took place in 1930, one in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and another in Asuncion, Paraguay. The remaining 101 matches have yet to be allocated.

Sources close to the matter suggest that 20 stadiums (11 in Spain, 6 in Morocco, and 3 in Portugal) could host the World Cup matches.

Portugal, not having any stadium with a capacity of more than 65,000 seats, is not a candidate to host either the opening match or the final, as these events require a minimum capacity of 80,000. With only three stadiums, Portugal is expected to have the least number of matches, likely hosting group stage matches, knockout rounds and a semi-final.

Morocco, on the other hand, has chosen six stadiums; Rabat, Fez, Agadir, Marrakech, Tangier, and the Grand Stade de Casablanca in Benslimane, which is set to become the world’s largest stadium upon completion.

“Assuming that Spain will have the most stadiums and therefore the most matches, we can roughly estimate that Morocco will have around a third of the 101 matches to be allocated, give or take,” a source close to the matter told Jeune Afrique.

Moroccans, like the Spaniards, are eager to host either the opening match or the final. “There are varying positions in Morocco,” journalist Nassim El Kerf explained to Jeune Afrique. “Some believe it would be better for the opening match to be held at the Grand Stade de Casablanca, as it would ensure that the kingdom participates in it, whereas for the final, it’s impossible to know. Others would prefer to host the final, as it is generally the most memorable match.”

A close source to the matter seems to favor the first option, telling Jeune Afrique, “The opening in Casablanca and the final at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium [home of Real Madrid] is, in my opinion, the most likely scenario. Moroccans are building a new stadium, which may be the largest in the world, so it’s only natural that they would want to organize one of the tournament’s key matches there.”

The source also highlighted the strong relations between Morocco and Spain, stating, “As relations with the Spaniards are very good, things will be settled between well-mannered people. I can’t imagine the two parties directly opposing each other on the issue.”

In recent years, relations between the two kingdoms have significantly warmed, with governments increasing cooperation in various areas, including trade, counter-terrorism, drug trafficking and irregular immigration. This rapprochement has undoubtedly contributed to the quick agreement between Morocco, Spain, and Portugal on hosting the World Cup.

Ultimately, the allocation of matches, including the opening and final, will be the result of political negotiations between the three countries, with the football federations involved.

Fouzi Lekjaa, president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) and Minister Delegate for Finance, is expected to play a significant role in these negotiations, as reported by Jeune Afrique.

Source: Morocco World News