North African nation Morocco will join forces with Spain and Portugal in a three-way bid to host the 2030 soccer World Cup, officials confirmed on Wednesday, March 15,2023 during the General Assembly of International Football Federation Association, held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Spain and Portugal had initially been joined by Ukraine as a potential partner for their 2030 bid, but with the latter’s war with Russia having no end in sight, Morocco stepped in.

“I would like to announce that the Kingdom of Morocco has decided, together with Spain and Portugal, to present a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup,” Morocco’s King Mohammed VI said in a letter read by the country’s minister of sport Chakib Benmoussa in Kigali, where soccer body FIFA hosts its 73rd Congress on Thursday.

“This joint bid, which is unprecedented in football history, will bring together Africa and Europe, the northern and southern Mediterranean, and the African, Arab and Euro-Mediterranean worlds.

“It will also bring out the best in all of us in effect a combination of genius, creativity, experience and means.”

Morocco have bid for several World Cup finals in the past, coming closest in the race to stage the 2010 tournament where they lost out to South Africa.

Morocco’s announcement comes on the heels of its historic performance at the 2022 World Cup.

The Atlas Lions, the nickname of Morocco’s national team, defeated both Spain and Portugal in the knockout stages in Qatar on their way to becoming the first African and first Arab country to ever reach a World Cup semifinal.

The top two teams from each group and the eight best third-place teams will advance to the round of 32. The move expands the competition from its projected 80 matches to a record 104.

The 2026 men’s World Cup will be the first edition to have 48 teams and to be played in three countries Canada, Mexico and the United States.

By Brian Mboh