Wednesday, December 6, 2023

SPORTS | 04-10-2023 12:25

Argentina to host one of 2030 World Cup's opening matches, confirms FIFA

Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will host opening matches of 2030 World Cup to mark centenary to the first-ever tournament; Spain, Portugal and Morocco to host remainder, confirms FIFA.

Argentina will host one of the opening matches of the 2030 World Cup, FIFA confirmed on Wednesday.

The tournament will be held across six nations in total, with the majority played in Europe and Africa. Morocco, Portugal and Spain will be joint hosts for the 2030 edition but games will also be played in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay, FIFA announced in a statement.

FIFA said in a statement that the matches in South America – one each in Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Asunción – were part of the celebration to mark 100 years since the first World Cup in Uruguay. The bulk of games will be played in the three host countries.

Once the technical criteria have been validated, the governing body of world football will make official the award of its flagship event in 2024.

Once the technical criteria have been validated, the governing body of world football will make official the award of its flagship event in 2024.

But, following the "unanimous" approval by the FIFA Council, the way seems clear for this unprecedented intercontinental format, which promises complex political and logistical challenges and raises further questions about the environmental impact of major sporting events. 

All six nations will automatically qualify for the 48-team tournament, which will be first staged across three continents, said FIFA.


South American celebrations

FIFA confirmed in its statement that the matches in South America were part of the celebration of the centenary of the first World Cup in Uruguay.

News that some of the matches would take place in South America was initially broken by the head of the region's footballing body, CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez, who campaigned for the entire event to take place in that part of the world.

"We believed in big. Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will host the opening matches of the #WorldCentenaryWorld Cup," he confirmed in a post on social media.

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) also confirmed the news, writing: "#2030 Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will inaugurate the World Cup. Argentina will play the first game of the group stage of #2030 at home and with its people. We are joining the World Cup party!"

 "Our country will be proud to host the opening match in 2030. We join this global celebration!" added AFA President Claudio Tapia.

The united South American bid had been viewed as one of the major contenders to host the tournament, though doubts remained over infrastructure and other technical aspects. 

At one stage, Spain and Portugal had included Ukraine in their bid, saying they wanted to send "a message of solidarity and hope" and pay tribute to the "tenacity and resilience" of the country, which was invaded by Russia in February 2022.

Morocco, a five-time unsuccessful candidate to host the tournament, joined them in mid-March.

Saudi Arabia was also interested in hosting, but has now set its sights on 2034.

The agreement between European body UEFA and its African (CAF) and South American (CONMEBOL) counterparts confirms the withdrawal of Ukraine and also that of the South American countries, in exchange for a symbolic concession.


Opening match and ceremony

The opening match will be played at the Estádio Centenário in Uruguay, which hosted the final of the inaugural tournament. One fixture has also been awarded to Argentina, who lost to the hosts in the final. A third match will be staged in Paraguay given that it is the host of CONMEBOL's headquarters.

FIFA said the opening ceremony will take place in one of the main host nations, either Spain, Portugal or Morocco, but that a "centenary ceremony" would take place in Uruguay.

"In a divided world, FIFA and football are uniting," said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. 

"The FIFA Council, representing the entire world of football, unanimously agreed to celebrate the centenary of the FIFA World Cup, whose first edition was played in Uruguay in 1930, in the most appropriate way," he added.

"As a result, a celebration will take place in South America and three South American countries – Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay – will organise one match each of the FIFA World Cup 2030.

"The first of these three matches will of course be played at the stadium where it all began, in Montevideo’s mythical Estádio Centenário, precisely to celebrate the centenary edition of the FIFA World Cup," said Infantino.

FIFA also said it was inviting bids from the Asian and Oceanian continental confederations for the 2034 World Cup. 




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