RABAT/MADRID/LISBON - Morocco will officially join Spain and Portugal's bid to host the FIFA 2030 World Cup in the first European-African bid in football history, announced Morocco's Sports Minister at the CAF President Outstanding Achievement Awards Ceremony.
"This joint bid, unprecedented in football history, will bring together Africa and Europe, the northern and southern Mediterranean, and the African, Arab and Euro-Mediterranean worlds," read Morocco's Sports Minister Chakib Benmoussa a message from King Mohammed VI on Tuesday.
This bid marks Morocco's sixth attempt to host the competition. The North African kingdom submitted a bid every time since it became eligible in 1994.
Morocco committed to participate in the 2030 bid more than four years ago, immediately after losing the vote for the 2026 tournament.
Rabat was reportedly in talks with the Iberian nations for a while but had never been officially included in the bid.
The Spanish-Moroccan political reconciliation last year reportedly played a key role in easing the talks.
Last October, Ukraine said it would team up with Spain and Portugal in a joint bid, but Morocco's announcement suggests it will no longer be part of the process.
A spokesman for the Spanish football federation told AFP news agency it will meet its Portuguese and Moroccan counterparts in Kigali on Wednesday but made no mention of Ukraine.
Reports say an alleged corruption scandal involving the Ukrainian football federation might be behind Kyiv's dropping out of the bid.
Morocco's announcement comes on the heels of its historic performance at the 2022 World Cup.
The Atlas Lions defeated Spain and Portugal in the knockout stages in Qatar on their way to becoming the first African and Arab country to ever reach a World Cup semifinal.
Rabat is expected to capitalise on its experience in hosting FIFA's Club World Cup this year and also on the Moroccan fans' ear-splitting energy that stunned the world in Qatar's tournament.
The joint bid also alleviates some concerns regarding logistical and hosting capabilities with the recently increased team count. FIFA announced that the number of teams competing for the trophy will increase from 32 to 48 starting from the 2026 World Cup.
The bid faces heavy competition, especially as Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay have prepared their joint bid, capitalising on the fact that the 2030 edition will mark the tournament's 100th anniversary. Uruguay hosted the first-ever World Cup in 1930.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Greece are also reportedly preparing a bid of their own.
The 2030 World Cup hosts are expected to be picked in September 2024. The co-hosting bids from South America and Europe have been the expected favourites.