Saudi Arabia Will Host 2034 FIFA World Cup

Saudi Arabia is officially set to host the 2034 men’s FIFA World Cup after Australia withdrew its interest in hosting before the bid deadline on Tuesday. 

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Saudi Arabia will officially be hosting the 2034 men’s FIFA World Cup after Australia withdrew its interest in hosting the Cup hours before the bids deadline on Tuesday, according to reports

In a statement from Football Australia, the group said “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.”

Australia’s football federation has instead chosen to focus on their bids to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup in 2029. This withdrawal leaves Saudi Arabia as the only confirmed bidder. In a press release, FIFA confirmed that Saudi Arabia was the only bidder for the 2034 tournament, but it will continue to “conduct thorough bidding and evaluation processes for the 2030 and 2034 tournaments.”

FIFA will conduct a targeted dialogue with bidders, to ensure bids are received and evaluated against the minimum hosting requirements. This dialogue will focus on the defined priority areas of the event vision and key metrics, infrastructure, services, commercial, and sustainability and human rights.

Spain, Portugal, and Morocco are set to co-host the 2030 tournament with Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina staging an opening match to celebrate 100 years since the first World Cup took place. 

FIFA is focused on placing the priority factors at the forefront when making their decision; infrastructure, commercial, services, sustainability, and human rights. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has hosted multiple major sports events within Formula One and boxing. 

Saudi Arabia hosting the World Cup would be major for the nation, which has been criticized for sportswashing; a term used to describe the practice of individuals, groups, corporations, or governments using sports to improve reputations tarnished by wrongdoing. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, stated that they didn’t care about the nation’s reputation for sportswashing.

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“Well if sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by one percent, then I will continue doing sportswashing.” 

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“I don’t care. I have one percent GDP growth from sport, and I am aiming for another one and a half percent. Call it whatever you want, we’re going to get that one and a half percent,” the Crown Prince stated. 

The Sports & Rights Alliance, which is a global coalition of nine human rights and anti-corruption advocates in sports, is urging FIFA to ensure there are human rights protections for the 2030 and 2034 World Cup tournaments. 

“With only a single bid for each tournament on the table, FIFA may have scored an own goal,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice.

“FIFA must now make clear how it expects hosts to comply with its human rights policies. It must also be prepared to halt the bidding process if serious human rights risks are not credibly addressed.”

“The best chance for FIFA to obtain binding guarantees to protect workers’ rights, ensure freedom of expression and prevent discrimination linked to the World Cup is during the host selection process – not after the hosts have been confirmed and tournament preparation has begun,” The Sports and Rights alliance added.

“Human rights commitments must be agreed with potential hosts before final decisions on holding the tournaments are made.”