Morocco, Spain and Portugal have been named hosts of the 2030 football World Cup, while Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will host the opening matches to mark the tournament's centenary, FIFA said on Wednesday.
The joint bid from Morocco, Portugal and Spain was the sole candidate to host the tournament. FIFA were due to announce the hosts next year. The inaugural World Cup in 1930 was held in Uruguay and won by the hosts. Wednesday's decision by FIFA marks the first time the World Cup will be staged across three continents and six countries, which might mean group matches will have to be held in different seasons based on the hemisphere.
"The FIFA Council unanimously agreed that the sole candidacy will be the combined bid of Morocco, Portugal, and Spain, which will host the event in 2030 and qualify automatically from the existing slot allocation," FIFA said in a statement.
"Additionally, having taken into account the historical context of the first-ever FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Council further unanimously agreed to host a unique centenary celebration ceremony in the country's capital, Montevideo... as well as three World Cup matches in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay respectively."
The 2022 World Cup was held in Qatar. Argentina are the defending champions. The Argentine Football Association (AFA) said their team "will play the first match of the 2030 group stage at home and with its people".
"In a divided world, FIFA and football are uniting," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said. "The FIFA Council... 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."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."
Infantino said the first of these three matches would be played at Montevideo's Estadio Centenario, where the first World Cup took place in 1930. Robert Harrison, the president of the Paraguayan Football Association, said Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay would automatically qualify for the World Cup but did not clarify what that would mean for the South American qualifiers.
FIFA also said that the 2034 World Cup will be held in the Asia or Oceania region, with member associations from those territories invited to bid to host the tournament.