- Sources reveal the 2034 World Cup is all but confirmed for Saudi Arabia to host
- FIFA announced last week three nations would host an opening game in 2030
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’
There was intense speculation last week that FIFA’s decision to hand hosting rights to the 2030 World Cup to six nations across three continents will effectively mean the 2034 event will be a gimme for Saudi Arabia to host.
Now sources close to the corridors of power have told MailSport: ‘A Saudi World Cup in 2034 isn’t just likely, it’s basically a done deal. Money has talked again, and the event will be worth billions in new cash for FIFA.’
In a surprise move last Wednesday, FIFA announced that Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay will each host one of three opening games in the 2030 World Cup, 100 years after Uruguay hosted the inaugural World Cup. And then Spain, Portugal and Morocco will share the other 101 games of a 104-game, 48-team tournament between them.
FIFA were lambasted by environmentalists for the carbon footprint this arrangement will entail. But most of the tournament will be played in a relatively small geographical area of south-west Europe and north-west Africa, in a time zone relatively convenient for much of the world.
The nation arguably most upset by these developments is Australia, because FIFA also announced the 2034 World Cup would be open to bidders from only Asia and Oceania. And just as they were announcing this, Saudi Arabia confirmed they will bid for 2034. What a coincidence!
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is reportedly close to Saudi’s ruler Mohammed bin Salman
The crown prince has overseen investment into the sports industry on an enormous scale
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And Sheik Salman of Bahrain, the most powerful man in Asian football, then declared: ‘The entire Asian football family will stand united in support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s momentous initiative, and we are committed to working closely with the global football family to ensure its success.’
This really annoyed Australia, who fall within the Asian confederation these days. They want to stage 2034 having staged a brilliant 2023 Women’s World Cup. But Saudi Arabia will gain most of Asia’s 47 votes and all of Africa’s 54 votes.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is close to Saudi’s ruler Mohammed bin Salman, and no doubt looking forward to gazillions of dollars of Saudi money pouring into FIFA’s coffers in sponsorship deals in the coming years.