A common European front.
Spain and Portugal on Wednesday included Ukraine in their joint bid to host the 2030 Football World Cup, a plea for "hope" in the midst of war.
“Now it is no longer the Iberian candidacy”, formalized in June 2021, “it is the European candidacy”, declared the president of the Spanish federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, during a conference with his Portuguese counterparts and Ukrainian.
For the centenary of the jewel of the round ball, launched in Uruguay in 1930, the three countries intend to "symbolize the unity of Europe", with the support of UEFA which hosted this press briefing, underlined for his part Andriy Pavelko, the boss of Ukrainian football.
This possible co-organisation by three non-neighboring countries nevertheless raises a number of practical questions, from the preparation of infrastructures to the movement of players, media and supporters, illustrated in the summer of 2021 by the holding of Euro 2020 in eleven host cities. across the whole continent.
Despite everything, the previous World will take place in the United States, Mexico and Canada, with large distances.
A challenge against the South Americans
But while Ukraine has been plunged into war since the Russian invasion in February, the time is not yet for details, but to bet on "the transformative power of football in society", pleaded Luis Rubiales.
“The institutional headquarters are in Madrid, the administrative headquarters in Lisbon.
Now, the Ukrainian delegation will join us (...) In the coming months, we will come to work on the ground,” he promised.
The Spanish and Portuguese federations, supported by their respective governments, had until then relied on the traditional continental rotation of the tournament to win the World Cup-2030, after the 2022 edition in Qatar and that of 2026 shared between the United States, Canada and Mexico. .
Faced with this Iberian ticket and before a decision by Fifa expected in 2024, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay nevertheless represent strong opposition, with the prospect of bringing the World Cup back to South America where it was born. , and vibrates for football more than for any sport.
"A Championship for Peace"
A third file, with much more hypothetical chances, could be invited into the competition since Egypt announced on September 9 that it was in consultation with Saudi Arabia and Greece.
But in the meantime, the clash of the two official candidacies now takes on a new dimension, especially in a sporting world which reacted to the conflict in Ukraine by banning the Russians from most international competitions in the space of a few days.
"Ukraine cannot disappear from our memory after the end of the war (...) Helping Ukrainians means integrating them into projects of this dimension, giving them hope for the future", argued Fernando Gomes, the president of the Portuguese federation.
Pedro Sanchez, the head of the Spanish government, for his part pleaded on Twitter for a "championship for peace", while his counterpart Antonio Costa intends to see this candidacy demonstrate "the best values of Europe".
Spain is the only one of the three countries to have hosted the World Cup, in 1982. And each organized the Euro: Spain in 1964, Portugal in 2004, and Ukraine in 2012 alongside Poland - before hosting the 2018 Champions League final at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv.