Unprecedented Expansion Coming to FIFA World Cup in 2030
This summer’s multi-hosted FIFA Women’s World Cup was a huge success, with cohosts Australia and New Zealand setting records for television and in-person viewership. Betting on the 2023 Women’s World Cup was also at an all-time high.
Everyone made money, especially FIFA, and the quadrennial showcase event for international soccer is only going to get bigger in the desire to make even more money.
In 2026, we’re getting a three-nation host, when the United States, Canada, and Mexico split the 104 total matches (a new high) played by 48 countries (a new high), and a knockout round that features 32 qualifiers (a new high).
On Wednesday, it was announced that the 2030 World Cup will grow even more, with six different nations from three continents set to host the FIFA World Cup. Spain, Portugal, and Morocco will be the primary host countries, but the tournament will kick off with three matches to be hosted in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first World Cup, which was hosted and won by Uruguay.
After those three matches are played, the six national teams, FIFA officials, media, and fans will travel the 6,200 miles to the main host nations to continue the tournament. Typically,there are only three days between Group Stage matches, and we’ll see if a change is made for the six teams that will have to fly thousands of miles and change hemispheres after their opening match.
The first time the World Cup was hosted by more than one nation was in 2002, when Japan and South Korea hosted the tournament. It was the first World Cup to be hosted in Asia, and it featured the best showing by the United States in the World Cup outside the first competition in 1930. In 2002, the U.S made it to the quarterfinals after beating Mexico, 2-0, in the Round of 16.
This summer, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was awarded to Australia and New Zealand, and a record two million fans attended the games in person, and the England-Australia match was the most-watched TV program on record in Australia. Ratings were also up in the United States, despite the majority of U.S. matches taking place in the middle of the night.
The United States is the primary host for the 2026 men’s tournament, but Canada has two host cities, and Mexico has three, making it the first tournament to be hosted by three countries. The inclusion of Mexico also makes them the first nation to host the World Cup three different times.
What makes 2030 so different, other than six total nations and more than 6,000 miles between host cities, is that multiple confederations are involved. All three host nations in 2026 are from CONCACAF. Japan and South Korea in 2002 were both from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The six host nations in 2030 are from the three different confederations, CONMEBOL (South America), CAF (Africa), and UEFA (Europe).
Saudi Arabia in 2034
It will be some time before FIFA awards the 2034 World Cup. But by awarding the 2030 tournament to three different confederations, all signs point to a Saudi Arabia-hosted tournament four years later.
FIFA likes to rotate its host confederations, and by the time 2034 will be here, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, CAF, and UEFA will have hosted some or all of a recent World Cup. That leaves Asia and Oceania for 2034, and only the Saudis have a bid plan in place.
A fan advocacy group called Football Supporters Europe said of the decision on 2030, and the perceived plan for 2034, “FIFA continues its cycle of destruction against the greatest tournament on earth. Horrendous for supporters, disregards the environment, and rolls the red carpet out to a host for 2034 with an appalling human rights record.”