Saudi Arabia appears to be the likely host for the 2034 FIFA World Cup following Australia’s decision not to participate in the bidding process. The deadline for submitting bids was set by FIFA for Tuesday, and with Australia opting out, Saudi Arabia stands as the sole declared candidate for hosting the tournament.
Football Australia (FA) released a statement explaining their decision: “We have thoroughly considered the opportunity to bid for the FIFA World Cup and, after careful evaluation of all relevant factors, we have decided not to pursue hosting the 2034 competition.”
While Saudi Arabia’s hosting status still requires official FIFA approval, it is expected to be confirmed in the coming year, making their victory all but assured. This achievement would represent the culmination of Saudi Arabia’s extensive efforts to establish itself as a significant player in the global sports arena. They have made substantial investments by recruiting numerous prominent football players for their domestic league, acquiring the English club Newcastle, launching the LIV Golf tour, and hosting major boxing events.
FIFA’s decision to fast-track the 2034 hosting selection process occurred recently when they awarded the 2030 World Cup to a joint bid by Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, which includes games in South America. This fast-tracking only allowed member federations in Asia and Oceania to submit bids. They had less than four weeks to enter the race and just one additional month to secure a bidding agreement with government support.
Shortly after FIFA’s announcement, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation expressed its intent to bid, receiving backing from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in their endeavor to bring the World Cup back to the Middle East after Qatar hosted the 2022 edition. Saudi Arabia is also slated to host the men’s Asian Cup in 2027 and has initiated an extensive stadium construction and renovation program that will likely be utilised for the World Cup. FIFA’s bid requirements specify a need for 14 stadiums to accommodate the 48-team tournament.
Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister, Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, highlighted the significance of hosting the World Cup, stating, “Hosting a FIFA World Cup in 2034 would help us achieve our dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation. As an emerging and welcoming home for all sports, we believe that hosting a FIFA World Cup is a natural next step in our football journey.”