Footballing powerhouses Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez are set to offer their backing to a joint bid from Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay to host the 2030 centenary World Cup, bid organisers announced today, as details emerged of the three nations' plans to host the tournament.
Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay have agreed on 12 cities where they want to host the centenary World Cup in 2030. The Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Monday the plan would grant eight cities to Argentina and two each for Paraguay and Uruguay. The names of the cities were not disclosed. Bidding is not due to open for another four years but leaders of all three national bodies say they want to make a joint bid.
"Messi will join us in this initiative, and Suárez certainly," Fernando Marin, the joint bid co-ordinator, told AFP on Monday. "We told him (Messi) about our aims, and he feels it's doable."
Argentina's Sports Minister Carlos Mac Alister said "it's important to know we have the support" of such high-profile players as Argentina's five-time world player of the year Messi and Uruguay striker Suárez. "In 2030, we won't be there any more, Messi will. He showed great desire to help us. He will surely be the flag-bearer for the World Cup."
The very first World Cup in 1930 was held in Uruguay and won by the hosts, who beat Argentina 4-2 in a memorable final at the Centenary Stadium in Montevideo.
Paraguay were also one of the 13 participants, but the World Cup has grown immeasurably since then and now features 32 teams, although that number will rise to 48 at the 2026 World Cup.
In 1930 there were 18 matches, but that will become 80 in a 48-team tournament, making it far more difficult for a single nation to host alone.
Before then the World Cup will be held in Russia later this year and then Qatar in 2022. The bid city for the 2026 edition has yet to be decided.
Presidents with football connections
The joint bid has the support of the heads of state of the three countries, all of whom were president of a football club before leading their country.
President Mauricio Macri used to head Boca Juniors, the country's most successful club; Tabaré Vázquez was in charge at Uruguay's Atletico Progresso; while Paraguayan Horacio Cartes was once the boss at Club Libertad.
The initial idea centred around a joint Uruguay-Argentina bid, which was announced in July. Paraguay were added to the bid in October with the backing of the South American federation, CONMEBOL.
Uruguay and Argentina have both hosted the World Cup before, winning on home soil in 1930 and 1978 respectively.
They have also both won the global football showpiece a second time – in 1950 for Uruguay and 1986 for a Diego Maradona-led Argentina.
Costs and candidates
No other potential candidates have expressed an interest in hosting the 2030 tournament, but China are rumoured to be preparing their candidature.
So far, the co-organizers have not said how much the tournament would cost if they were to win the bid.
"Today, we can't say what the final costs will be to each of our countries, but it cannot be measured only in the building of infrastructure," Uruguay Sports Secretary Fernando Caceres said.
"There's an intangible measure, which is how much a country earns in coexistence, in integration, identity, and the construction of citizenship by hosting an event of this magnitude."