Four South American countries on Tuesday launched an unprecedented joint bid to host the centenary 2030 World Cup with the hope of bringing the global showpiece back to its first home.
“We are in this iconic place where history began,” said Alejandro Dominguez, president of South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL, from the Centenario stadium in Montevideo where the first World Cup final was held in 1930.
Uruguay won that, beating Argentina 4-2, but now the neighbours have joined together — alongside Paraguay and Chile — to bid for the right to host the 2030 global showpiece under the “Juntos 2030” (Together 2030) slogan.
“This is not the project of a government but the dream of a whole continent,” added Dominguez.
“There will be other World Cups but 100 years will be celebrated only once.”
The idea of a joint South American bid for the 2030 tournament was first mooted by Uruguay and Argentina in 2017 and two years later the four potential hosts had been established.
But it has taken until now for them to make their bid official.
And the romantic idea of bringing the tournament back to its first home was central to the plans of the football and sporting authorities from the four countries present at Tuesday’s launch.
The idea of a World Cup was “thought up, analyzed and put into practice here in Uruguay almost 100 years ago,” said Ignacio Alonso, president of the Uruguayan football association (AUF).
“It became the greatest sporting festival in the world,” he said, praising the “guts, courage, intelligence and effort” that went into putting on the first tournament.
Paraguayan Dominguez, though, reminded those present that the symbolic argument would not be enough.
“We cannot rely only on the sentimental, we have to play our part and be in condition” to host the World Cup.
– ‘Leaving a legacy’ –
Uruguay’s sports minister, Sebastian Bauza, said the four countries would present their bid to FIFA in May 2023, with the world governing body due to make its decision the year after.
“We have to put on a sustainable World Cup that leaves a legacy for these four countries,” said Bauza, adding that some international banks had expressed an interest in supporting the bid.
The joint South American bid will likely come up against at least two other proposals.
Spain and Portugal have officially submitted a joint bid while Morocco have repeatedly insisted they will bid to become only the second ever African country to host the finals.
The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland decided in February to abandon a joint bid that would have seen five FIFA member federations hosting the tournament.
There has also been tentative talk of an Israeli bid alongside the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The 2030 tournament will feature 48 teams and Dominguez said around 14 stadiums would be used for around 80 matches.
By contrast, at the Qatar World Cup later this year, there will be 32 teams playing 64 matches in eight venues.
In 1930 there were only 13 teams and the entire tournament was played in the same city — Montevideo — in just three stadiums.
“It’s more difficult and onerous for a country to plan a candidacy on its own,” said Dominguez.
If successful it would be the first time that as many as four countries host the World Cup.
The 2026 tournament has already been awarded to three countries — Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The last World Cup to be hosted in South America was Brazil 2014.
More than half of the 21 World Cup tournaments already staged have been in Europe.