Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay on Tuesday officially launched their joint bid to stage the FIFA World Cup tournament in 2030, exactly 100 years after the event was first held in South America.
"We are convinced that FIFA has an obligation to honour the memory of those who organised the first World Cup," said Alejandro Domínguez, president of CONMEBOL, South American football's governing body, at a photo-call in Buenos Aires.
Domínguez was attending the bid's launch event at the Argentine Football Association's (AFA) headquarters in Ezeiza, on the outskirts of the capital.
Competition is intensifying before FIFA chooses a host in 2024. The so-called "Mundial Centenario," or Centenary World Cup project faces a packed field in the bid for hosting rights. FIFA is due to choose a host in 2024 for the 2030 tournament.
The South Americans' main challenge is a joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Ukraine, which has the backing of European football's governing body UEFA. Saudi Arabia is also considering bidding for the right to stage the tournament, lining up an ambitious bid with Egypt and Greece.
Tipping the scales against the South American bid is the fact that the next World Cup, due to be staged in 2026, will also be held in the Americas, with games split between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
In the 2026 games, the number of competing nations will increase from 32 to 48, starting with an enlarged group stage.
Back in December, Domínguez said FIFA should honour the legacies of South American icons Pelé and Diego Maradona by awarding the centennial 2030 World Cup to the continent.
"It is very important for them to come and play here. Uruguay is the first world champion, Argentina the last,", said Sebastián Bauzá, Uruguay's national sports secretary, as he spoke in front of dozens of directors and former players who are backing the bid.
Paraguay's Sports Minister Diego Galeano Harrison said "the 100th anniversary World Cup" should be in South America.
"It is a legitimate desire throughout the region. We have world champions. It is a big challenge. The first thing is to dream, believe and achieve it, with an appropriate and sustainable bid," said Alexandra Benado, Chile's sports minister.
AFA president Claudio Tapia said that "history and passion will give us the possibility of hosting the 2030 World Cup."
Uruguay became the first-ever world champions in 1930, beating Argentina 4-2 in the final of the 13-team World Cup it hosted in Montevideo.
Argentina are the reigning champion, having triumphed over France in Qatar last year.
Fernández calls for Bolivia to join bid
Prior to the press conference, Argentina's President Alberto Fernández called for a fifth nation, Bolivia, to be added to the hosting line-up.
"This candidacy is for the whole continent. That's why I would like and I'm going to propose that our brother country Bolivia be part of this dream,” wrote the Peronist leader.
"The opening match of 2030 should be played in Uruguay," Tapia proposed on his own initiative during the conference. At present, the first match would be played at the Monumental in Buenos Aires, with the final at the Centenario in Montevideo.
Domínguez said the bid "will not be a competition to see who puts up the most money or infrastructure," pointing out that "this is an iconic bid for a historic event."
There have been 22 World Cup staged so far and South America has hosted it five times: Uruguay-1930, Brazil-1950, Chile-1962, Argentina-1978 and Brazil-2014.
The region's achievements are even greater, with 10 title wins: Uruguay in 1930 and 1950, Argentina in 1978, 1986 and 2022 and Brazil in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002.
In principle, there would be five Argentine stadiums selected as venues for matches during the tournament. They are understood to be:
– El Monumental (Buenos Aires)
River Plate’s stadium was inaugurated on May 26, 1938 and currently has a capacity for 70,054 spectators. World Cup matches were played there during the 1978 World Cup on home soil.
– Estadio Único Diego Armando Maradona (La Plata)
Also known as Ciudad de La Plata Stadium, the 53,000-capacity venue was partially inaugurated on June 7, 2003 and completed on February 17, 2011. It is one of the most modern stadia in the country and has been used as a home stadium by Estudiantes and Gimnasia.
– Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes (Córdoba)
Previously known as the “Estadio Olímpico de Córdoba" or simply "El Chateau Carreras," the 57,000-capacity venue named after legendary national team striker Mario Kempes was inaugurated on May 16, 1978, just prior to the World Cup later that year. All of the city’s biggest teams have played there over the years: Talleres, Belgrano, Instituto and Racing.
– Estadio Malvinas Argentinas (Mendoza)
Another stadium constructed for the 1978 World Cup, the Malvinas Argentinas de Mendoza was inaugurated on May 14 that same year. The province’s most storied clubs, such as Godoy Cruz, San Martín and Independiente, have all played matches at the 42,500-capacity venue.
– Estadio Único Madre de Ciudades (Santiago del Estero).
The newest of all the aforementioned stadiums, the Estadio Único opened less than two years ago, on March 4, 2021. Selected as one of the venues for the 2021 Copa América, the 30,000-capacity venue never hosted the game after the competition – due to be staged by Argentina and Colombia – was moved to Brazil as Covid-19 cases surged in the region.