BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Morocco is set to replace Ukraine in the preliminary joint bid that Spain and Portugal announced last year.
Unfolding events have made Ukraine, an unlikely joint candidate with the Iberian penisular countries of Portugal and Spain.
In what could have been the most expansive World Cup in terms of space between venues.
Ukraine is almost 3,000 kilometres north-east of Spain. In contrast, Morocco is separated from Spain by a 14 kilometre Strait of Gibraltar.
The 2030 World Cup is a milestone, marking the 100 years since the competition started.
The on-going war in Ukraine makes it an unlikely desitination for World Cup as even if the conflicts end, the country will need a huge amount of money to rebuild.
Besides, the Ukraine football federation recently has been in tumoil.
There are issues at the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) whose President Andriy Pavelko was arrested in November last year for allegedly misusing international aid funds.
A court in Kyiv suspended Pavelko for one month until March 17, but the UAF insisted he would retain his position after filing an appeal.
Ukraine had increasingly been viewed as unlikely to be in a position to stage matches at the 2030 World Cup.
Morocco appears to enjoy good relations with FIFA, stepping in to host the men’s Club World Cup in February at less than two months’ notice.
They enjoyed a historic run to the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup in Qatar, knocking out both Spain and Portugal.
A host for the 2030 World Cup is set to be decided at next year’s FIFA Congress.
A South American bid including Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile is set to rival the Iberian bid, and Saudi Arabia hopes to lead a joint proposal with Egypt and Greece.
UEFA backed the Spanish and Portuguese bid when Ukraine joined it last year, but Greek involvement in a Saudi bid could appeal to some European nations.