Spain has formally invited Morocco to consider bidding to host the 2030 World Cup along with Portugal in a move which could scupper the possibility of a British Isles push to stage the tournament.
Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez made the offer of a joint bid involving the two European neighbours and the north African nation during a trip to the Moroccan capital on Monday.
Sources close to the Spanish leader said he discussed it with his Moroccan counterpart Saadedin Al Othmani and the country’s King Mohamed VI.
Spanish newspapers reported the invitation had been “welcomed” by the Moroccan authorities and received favourable feedback.
The move came two months after Spain threw its hat into the 2030 ring in a shock broadside for the planned British Isles World Cup bid.
It had been thought Portugal and Spain would go it alone in their attempt to stage the 2030 World Cup – and Morocco would team up with Algeria and Tunisia.
FIFA boss Gianni Infantino threw his support behind Spain by accompanying Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales to a meeting on September 13 at Pedro Sanchez’s official residence Moncloa Palace where he was asked to support a 2030 World Cup bid.
Morocco competed to organise the 2026 World Cup, which ended up going to a joint bid presented by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
It highlighted the fact it was making its fifth attempt to host the tournament in its official bidding document.
Morocco is just nine miles from Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar at its narrowest point
Fast ferries take just over half an hour to reach Tangier from the trendy holiday designation of Tarifa in southern Spain, a mecca for windsurfers and kite-surfers.
Football has a huge fan base in Morocco, with the most popular team being Barcelona followed by Real Madrid.
Spain hosted the World Cup alone in 1982. Italy won the tournament by beating West Germany in the final at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.