FIFA WORLD CUP: 2034Saudi Arabia Formally Launches Bid to Host 2034 World Cup, Exclusively

Saudi Arabia has officially launched its bid to host the 2034 World Cup, emerging as the sole contender after Australia withdrew from the race in October. Despite being the only bidder, Saudi Arabia’s formal bid was a requirement under FIFA regulations, and the decision on the host will be confirmed later this year.

Yasser Al Misehal, the president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), expressed the significance of the bid, stating, “Telling our football story to the world is of massive importance. We’ve made unprecedented progress in both the men’s and women’s game, and our bid is an open invitation to the world to join us on this exciting journey.”

The bid carries the slogan “Growing. Together,” symbolizing the connection between the Kingdom, its people, and the global football community. Saudi Arabia’s rapid transformation in football has been a crucial factor in its ability to bid for the prestigious tournament.

Saudi Arabia highlights it’s progress in both the men’s and women’s game as the oil rich country launches bid to host 2034 World Cup. | Credit: Getty

The Gulf kingdom has invested approximately £5 billion in sports since 2021, aligning with the Crown Prince’s economic diversification strategy. Saudi Arabia has successfully hosted major sporting events, including football, Formula 1, golf, and boxing. Additionally, its Public Investment Fund has ventured into sports ownership, launching the LIV Golf series, acquiring control of Saudi Pro League clubs, and purchasing Newcastle United.

However, Saudi Arabia faces criticism for leveraging sports investments to enhance its international image, a practice known as ‘sportswashing.’ The country has been under scrutiny for human rights violations, the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, women’s rights abuses, criminalization of homosexuality, restrictions on free speech, and involvement in the Yemeni conflict.

In response to accusations of sportswashing, Saudi Arabia’s sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, defended the country’s efforts, stating, “Any country has room for improvement; no one’s perfect. We acknowledge that, and these events help us reform to a better future for everyone.”

FIFA guidelines mandate bidding countries to commit to respecting human rights. Despite concerns, Saudi Arabia’s bid emphasizes the positive impact of its sports investments on the economy, tourism, and community engagement.

The 2034 World Cup is expected to take place in winter to avoid extreme summer temperatures, similar to the scheduling for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This edition will mark the first time a 48-team tournament is hosted by a single country. Meanwhile, Morocco, Portugal, and Spain are slated to co-host the 2030 World Cup, with the initial matches in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. The 2026 World Cup, featuring 48 teams, is set to be hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada.


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