Spain in talks for Morocco to be part of Iberian 2030 World Cup bid
The RFEF works on the Moroccan option in the event that Ukraine falls due to the sanction imposed on the president of its Federation.
The Iberian bid to host the 2030 World Cup may have a new guest. The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the Portuguese Football Federation are working on the option of including Morocco in a joint bid. Morocco’s incorporation will be exhaustively negotiated in the coming days and weeks, but it appears that its definitive inclusion will be linked to Ukraine’s withdrawal from the joint bid by Spain and Portugal to host the 24th edition of the World Cup.
Ukraine’s participation as host nation, as announced last October, is currently up in the air due to the ongoing case of alleged corruption involving the country’s Football Federation (UAF). UAF president Andriy Pavelko is under investigation for fraud and money laundering and has been suspended for a limited period until the case is resolved. On 29 November, he was arrested accused of embezzling funds intended for the construction of a factory intended to produce artificial grass for football pitches. Pavelko, who denies any wrongdoing, could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.
For that reason, the RFEF is keen to distance itself from the scandal and has decided to leave Ukraine on the sidelines until the situation is resolved and everything is clear. Ukraine’s presence in the Iberian bid was a surprise when it was announced on 5 October - and a move that could eventually go against it; hence the decision to contemplate another scenario in the near future.
From the RFEF’s point of view, while they did not view the expansion of the Iberian candidacy including Morocco as a priority, they are now working with the North African country to negotiate its inclusion. Initially, their presence had been ruled out because FIFA and UEFA vetoed the joint candidacies of countries from different confederations. However, now that Greece, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are proposing a joint bid - three nations from three different federations (UEFA, AFC and CAF) the situation has changed dramatically. Now, the RFEF and the Portuguese Federation feel that they are in a position to open the door to Morocco.
It is assumed that the Greece-Egypt-Saudi Arabia candidacy is not viable at the moment, based on FIFA principles, which establish that at least two World Cups have to pass before the same continent hosts the event - that rules out Saudi Arabia as Qatar staged the last World Cup. But the appearance of Greece and Egypt seems like a trick aimed at changing FIFA’s mind. With all that in mind, the RFEF continue holding talks with Morocco with the aim of strengthen the solidity of the Iberian Bid. Spain last hosted the World Cup in 1982 while neighbours Portugal and Morocco have never staged the event although all three countries have the infrastructure and hosted major football tournaments in recent years.