Morocco and Spain battling to host 2030 WC final

A day after Morocco and Spain were nominated as joint hosts of the 2030 World Cup — along with Portugal — there were signs of friction, with both countries laying claim to being the venue for the final.

Spain’s Sports Minister Miquel Iceta on Thursday on Onda Cero radio said that although “you can’t count your chickens before they hatch,” he expected the final to be held in Spain.

But Fouzi Lekjaa, head of Morocco’s football federation, said that the goal was for the final to be in Casablanca.

He hoped to see the country’s efforts “crowned — god willing — with celebrations in Casablanca stadium at a historic final,” he said on Radio Mars.

In a surprise announcement a year earlier than planned, FIFA allocated the 2030 World Cup to Morocco, Spain and Portugal on Wednesday and said Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will host three matches to mark the tournament’s centenary.

Argentina also weighed in, with government officials and the local football federation on Thursday saying the country would “go for more” games than the single opening match it has been allocated.

Relations between Spain and Morocco have for decades been marked by disputes over migration and territory.

There have been regular diplomatic crises over Spain’s enclaves in Africa and the arrival of thousands of undocumented migrants in Spain each year through Morocco.

Ties improved last year after Madrid moved closer to Morocco’s policy on Western Sahara, a disputed territory that Rabat claims as its own but where the Algeria-backed Polisario Front is seeking independence.

Lekjaa said Morocco, Spain and Portugal will meet on Oct. 18 in Rabat to discuss the scheduling of World Cup matches. Six cities in Morocco will be match venues.

Iceta said the three federations have been working together for some time and that there was an advanced agreement on how to allocate the matches.

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