Saudi Arabia Confirms Bid to Host 2034 Men’s World Cup
Saudi Arabia has officially announced its bid to host the 2034 men’s World Cup. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) expressed its desire to deliver a world-class tournament for the 25th edition and draw inspiration from the country’s deep-rooted passion for football.
The announcement comes after Saudi Arabia was already confirmed as the host for the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup, which will take place in Jeddah in December. Additionally, the country will also host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
Saudi Arabia has been making significant strides in the world of football recently. In January, they managed to attract Cristiano Ronaldo to Al Nassr, making headlines around the world. Furthermore, their Public Investment Fund (PIF) took control of four teams – Al Ahli, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, and Al Nassr – in the Saudi Pro League (SPL), leading to a shake-up in the league.
The SPL saw a summer of spending with high-profile names like Neymar and Karim Benzema moving to Saudi Arabia. This influx of talent has raised the profile of Saudi football and showcased their ambition to become a major player in the sport.
It’s not just football that Saudi Arabia has been investing in. The PIF led a consortium that completed a takeover of Newcastle United in 2021, signaling their interest in global sports. They have also launched LIV golf and held boxing events. In 2021, Saudi Arabia hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix, and they have secured a five-year deal to host the Next Gen ATP Finals in tennis.
However, Saudi Arabia has faced criticism for its human rights record and treatment of dissidents and human rights activists. LGBTQ+ rights are not recognized by the government, leading to international condemnation.
Despite these controversies, Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and chairman of the PIF, has dismissed accusations of “sportswashing.” He stated that if sportswashing can contribute to a 1% increase in the country’s gross domestic product, they will continue to engage in it.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, the Saudi Minister of Sport, expressed his excitement about the bid, stating that hosting a FIFA World Cup in 2034 would help Saudi Arabia achieve its dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport. He believes that hosting the tournament is a natural next step in their football journey and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation.
The SAFF emphasized the role of sport in contributing to Saudi Arabia’s economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for its citizens. They see hosting the World Cup as an opportunity to showcase their progress and establish themselves as a major player in the global sports landscape.
FIFA has invited bids for the 2034 World Cup from the Asian Football Confederation and the Oceania Football Confederation. In addition to Saudi Arabia, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco are set to co-host the 2030 World Cup, with three South American nations hosting the opening matches to commemorate the tournament’s centenary. The 2026 World Cup will be held across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Saudi Arabia has qualified for the World Cup on six occasions since 1994, with their most recent appearance in 2022, where they secured a surprising victory over eventual winners Argentina.
The bid to host the 2034 World Cup is another step in Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plans to establish itself as a global sports destination. Despite the controversies surrounding the country, they are determined to showcase their passion for football and leave a lasting legacy in the world of sports.