The kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be the host of the 2034 World Cup, FIFA confirmed on Tuesday. It was the only country that expressed interest in organising the tournament.
The final decision will be made at the end of next year, after FIFA checks that all the technical requirements are fulfilled.
Saudi Arabia has been investing a lot in football, as well as other sports like Formula One and golf. It will follow the 2030 World Cup, which will be held on three continents: Europe (Spain and Portugal), Africa (Morocco), and South America (three matches).
Saudi Arabia’s bid was announced one year after its neighbour Qatar became the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup, where Saudi Arabia beat Argentina, who later won the trophy, in the group stage.
The bids for 2030 and 2034 are still at the stage of “expressions of interest”. They will be submitted in full to FIFA, who will evaluate them and vote on them at two different congresses at the end of 2024.
However, there is little doubt about the outcome since Saudi Arabia has no rivals for 2034. This also raises many questions about how the 2030 World Cup will affect the environment and how the 2034 World Cup will respect FIFA’s human rights standards.
Saudi Arabia had initially planned to bid for the 2030 World Cup with Egypt and Greece, but they dropped this idea in June, leaving the way clear for the tri-continental bid.
Saudi Arabia declared its intention to bid for the 2034 World Cup on October 4, as soon as FIFA opened the process.
FIFA had only “invited” countries from Asia and Oceania to apply, excluding the traditional football powers.
Indonesia had thought about a joint bid with Australia, or maybe with other countries like New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore, but on October 19, it decided to back Saudi Arabia’s bid.