Saudi Arabia has been designated as the prospective host for the 2034 World Cup, as FIFA disclosed that the kingdom stands as the sole contender for this tournament.
The official confirmation of this decision will be made by the end of the upcoming year, provided that all the necessary technical requirements are met.
Saudi Arabia has made substantial investments in various sporting domains, including football, Formula One, and golf. It is poised to take the reins from an unprecedented three-continent consortium for the 2030 event, where Spain, Portugal, and Morocco are set to share the responsibilities, including hosting three matches in South America.
This bid follows closely on the heels of neighboring Qatar’s historic hosting of the first-ever World Cup in the Middle East, where the Saudi national team achieved a remarkable group stage victory over the eventual champions, Argentina.
As of now, only “expressions of interest” have been tendered. Once the comprehensive bids for both the 2030 and 2034 editions are submitted, FIFA will assess them and present them for voting at separate congress meetings towards the conclusion of 2024.
The absence of any competing bids minimizes the element of surprise and gives rise to concerns regarding the environmental impact of the 2030 event and the alignment of the 2034 tournament with FIFA’s human rights commitments.
Initially, Saudi Arabia had expressed interest in jointly bidding for the 2030 World Cup with Egypt and Greece, but this plan was abandoned in June, ultimately paving the way for the tri-continental bid.
Saudi Arabia swiftly announced its candidacy to host the 2034 event on October 4, immediately after the commencement of the application process.
Due to FIFA’s continental rotation policy, the invitation to apply was limited to member countries of the Asian and Oceanian confederations, excluding the conventional football powerhouses.
Indonesia, at one point, contemplated a joint bid with Australia, or even the participation of countries like New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore. However, on October 19, Indonesia decided to throw its support behind Saudi Arabia’s bid.
Australia, which successfully hosted the Women’s World Cup in the same year, was another potential contender, but it withdrew its bid after the Asian Football Confederation decided to endorse the Saudi bid. In a statement, Football Australia explained its decision, saying, “We have explored the opportunity to bid to host the FIFA World Cup and – having taken all factors into consideration – we have reached the conclusion not to do so for the 2034 competition.”