FEATURE: Legend Luis Figo backs bid to host 2030 FIFA Men’s World Cup

Portuguese legend Luis Figo is confident his home nation, with Spain and Morocco, will deliver an exceptional FIFA World Cup in 2030.

In the following interview, he speaks in depth about the 2030 bid and the upcoming Euros and looks back at his own career …

Any list of the greatest players of all time is incomplete without the name Figo. Known for his grace and skill, Figo showcased his talent in Portugal, Spain and Italy for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan.

His career earned him 127 caps for Portugal, the fourth-highest in the team’s history, and included captaining the team to the final of EURO 2004 on home turf.

Figo won the Ballon d’Or in 2000 and the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001.

At club level, he won eight league titles (four in Spain, four in Italy), and the UEFA Champions League in 2002. He was named Portuguese Football of the Year for six consecutive times, from 1995-2000.

Main photo: Luis Figo (left) and Togo international striker Emmanuel Adebayor have been appointed ambassadors for the three-nation bid to host the 2030 tournament. Photo credit: FIFA.com.

Q1: As an ambassador for the 2030 FIFA World Cup bid, what do you think hosting the tournament could do for your country?

A: Having been through the experience of playing in a home European Championship and having lived for so long in Portugal and Spain, I can only imagine the potential of the FIFA World Cup 2030.

Portugal, Spain and Morocco (are) countries with football at their heart. You read it in the news, you see it in the street. It is part of life. And this means that everyone will have their chance to be involved and benefit directly.

In Portugal, hosting the FIFA World Cup 2030 will bring the country together like never before. I believe that we will see Portuguese people of all ages, and all backgrounds, come together like never before, to deliver a truly incredible event.

It will of course be a great opportunity to showcase Portugal to the world, and I’m excited about the potential to highlight all regions of our beautiful country.

Q2: What are your expectations for the FIFA World Cup 2030 bid?

A: Extremely high! Morocco, Portugal and Spain have already proved themselves by organizing other major events. We have the infrastructure, facilities and expertise to host a truly exceptional event.

For the players, the officials, and, of course, the fans, I can’t think of a better event experience.

This would also be a unique World Cup, bridging two continents together. Through a culmination of different cultures, I believe the event will unite people through their strong passion of football and offer a great experience for visitors from across the world.

I’ve also been very impressed with the bid’s commitment to a sustainable and responsible approach. It considers the social, economic, and environmental impact of the tournament, and in this way, I think it can and will create a legacy that goes long beyond the tournament itself and benefits communities in Portugal for years to come.

Q3: How do you see the future of Portuguese football? Could we be seeing a home winner in 2030, if the bid of Morocco, Portugal and Spain is successful?

A: Portuguese football has a bright future. The current generation of players is incredibly talented, and through the great work of academies across the country, we have had a consistent pipeline of really talented young players.

The same can be said for Spain, whose academies are well-known throughout the world, and Morocco, who have invested very intelligently in recent years to provide new opportunities for young players. I see no reason why all three won’t be serious contenders in 2030.

With that said, as I mentioned — a FIFA World Cup is the greatest test in football, because the margin between success and failure is so thin. With the way the game is growing across the world, it will likely be the case that many teams feel confident in their ability to the tournament, and it should make for an incredible spectacle.

The FIFA Men’s World Cup trophy.

Q4: Luis, you had an incredible career at a club and international level, in several countries. Can you start by sharing your experience playing in major clubs in Portugal, Spain, and Italy during your career?

A: Certainly, I have so many positive memories. Obviously, I grew up in Lisbon. I was part of Sporting CP’s academy since the age of 12, and breaking through to the first team was the source of immense pride. The atmosphere at Sporting CP was always electric, with fans deeply connected to their local clubs.

Moving to FC Barcelona was a tremendous opportunity for me to establish myself on the international stage. It was a very successful time for us, winning La Liga twice, at a very important moment for the club.

My experience at Real Madrid was equally incredible. We had a great team, full of stars, and winning the UEFA Champions League trophy was particularly special for me.

Finally, I will always remember my time with Inter Milan very fondly as well. They welcomed me as one of their own, and we also had tremendous success, winning the league each of the four seasons I was there.

Each experience at these four clubs was different, but there were some things in common – the passion for football, the sense of pride, and the beauty and culture of some of the best cities in the world.

Q5: You also, of course, represented Portugal for an incredible 18 years, starting from the U-16 team, before amassing 127 caps for the senior side. How do you reflect on your years playing for your country?

There is nothing quite like representing your country on an international stage. I never took for granted the honour of putting on the Portugal jersey. As you mention, my experience started with the national team from young, when we were very successful, winning the U-16 European Championship and FIFA U-20 World Championships.

It really felt like a breakthrough moment for football in Portugal.

Every match was special and an opportunity to defend the colours of my country, but of course, the major championships, the European Championships and the FIFA World Cup, hold a special significance.

I was fortunate enough to play in three European Championships and two FIFA World Cups, each one a unique occasion that will stay with me forever.

Q6: There are certainly not many players who can say that they captained their team at a home international major competition. Though it did not end the way you wanted it to, how do you remember the feeling of representing Portugal at EURO 2004, and how the Portuguese people embraced it?

It was a unique moment in my career. Playing in front of a home crowd in such an important tournament is an unforgettable feeling.

We felt a tremendous honour of representing 11 million people, at the same time showcasing our country to the world as a host nation.

International championships are built around fine margins, small moments. That is probably what makes them the best football events in the world.

Though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, I felt an enormous pride for the way that we competed, and the waythat our country welcomed the whole of Europe. We showed that we are capable of hosting the biggest events in the world, and doing so in a friendly, welcoming fashion.

Q7: Closer to the present, what are your expectations for Portugal at EURO 2024? Do they have a strong chance?

A: I think Portugal has a strong team at the moment, with a good balance between very experienced players and the younger players just starting to establish themselves on an international level.

Like the FIFA World Cup, it will come down to small moments, so it’s always difficult to predict, but Portugal are one of 5-6 teams which will go into the tournament very confident they can win it, and why not? I’m really excited to see how far
they can go.


We thank FIFA for providing this story.

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