Dubai: Iberian neighbours Spain and Portugal have joined an increasing numbers of bidders while announcing an official joint bid for the 2030 Fifa World Cup.
The presidents of both nations’ football governing bodies signed an agreement on the sidelines of their goalless friendly match played earlier this week, in Lisbon.
The President of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales and his Portuguese counterpart Fernando Gomes both ratified the deal at the Jose Alvalade Stadium just before the teams kicked off their friendly.
Perhaps the biggest threat to Spain and Portugal’s hosting is the joint bid in South America from Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay.
All of these nations have previously held the World Cup alone, with the exception of Paraguay, and have centred their bid on the centenary of the first tournament in Uruguay.
Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia have also submitted a joint bid for the 2030 competition.
It is understood that China could also be interested in joining the race, as well as the African nations of Egypt and Cameroon, who are yet to host the global competition.
A joint bid from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador is also reportedly in the works, as is a United Kingdom and Ireland bid consisting of England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
If the Spain-Portugal bid is successful, then the two Iberian Peninsula neighbours will be host the tournament a full 100 years after the first World Cup was held in Uruguay, in 1930.
In December, the two nations spoke of their intention to work together, while ruling out a joint bid with North African nation Morocco, who had previously expected to be involved in the race.
It is now understood that Morocco — who has unsuccessfully bid for the World Cup five times — could enter again alone or with North African neighbours Tunisia and Algeria.
Qatar are the next hosts of the tournament in 2022, while Canada, United States and Mexico will stage the event four years later in 2026.
A decision on where the 2030 World Cup will be held is due to be made by the world governing body for football in 2024, with the bidding process due to have a formal start only in 2022.
“This agreement represents an important step for this common project of Federations, but also for the countries,” Rubiales noted at the signing ceremony in Lisbon.
“Soccer, sport, is a magnificent tool to inject strength and will to overcome in these moments of great difficulty. Few things can generate more illusion than this opportunity to organise a World Cup and we cannot think of a better partner than Portugal. We go hand in hand with the FPF.”