July 19, 2024

Saudi Arabia certain to host 2034 FIFA World Cup as Australia drops out

Saudi Arabia certain to host 2034 FIFA World Cup as Australia drops out

Saudi Arabia certain to host 2034 FIFA World Cup after Australia withdrew its interest in hosting the global showpiece just hours before the bid deadline on Tuesday. The Gulf nation announced its bid on October 4 immediately following FIFA’s surprise invitation for expressions of interest from only Asia and Oceania for the 2034 tournament.

Australia’s decision

Australia’s football federation (FA) issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that it would not lodge a bid for the 2034 World Cup. “We have explored the opportunity to bid to host the FIFA World Cup. And after having taken all factors into consideration – we have reached the conclusion not to do so for the 2034 competition,” the statement read.

Instead, the FA reiterated its interest in hosting the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026 and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2029. FA noted that Australia’s time zones provide significant opportunities for broadcasters and that the country is within touching distance of billions of people in Asia and Oceania, which also helps to provide a strong commercial outlook for competitions.

However, any proposal from Australia would have faced an almighty battle to win the 2034 World Cup, which is only available to nations in Asia and Oceania. Saudi Arabia’s football federation has said it has the backing of over 100 of FIFA’s 211 members, who would vote on the bids should a second nation declare its interest.

 READ ALSO | T20 World Cup 2021: A Summary of the Tournament

Saudi Arabia’s bid

Saudi Arabia is set to become the fourth Asian country to host the World Cup, after South Korea and Japan in 2002, Qatar in 2022, and Spain, Portugal and Morocco in 2030. The kingdom has been investing heavily in sports events and infrastructure in recent years, hosting Formula One, boxing, golf, and soccer competitions.

Saudi Arabia’s bid is likely to face criticism from human rights organizations, who have accused the country of using sports to improve its image and divert attention from its human rights record.

FIFA has said that it will conduct thorough bidding and evaluation processes for the 2030 and 2034 tournaments, with the hosts set to be confirmed by October next year. FIFA has said that the priority areas for the bids are infrastructure, services, commercial, sustainability, and human rights.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has defended his country’s investment in sports, saying that he does not care about being accused of sports washing. “Well if sports washing is going to increase my GDP by one percent, then I will continue doing sports washing,” he said in an interview with Fox News last month.

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