Last week FIFA announced the shared organization of the 2030 World Cup between six countries (Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) and therefore, for the first time in the history of the tournament, three continents (Africa, Europe and South America). In its communications, FIFA also invited Asian and Oceanic countries to submit their bids for the 2034 edition “in line with the principle of rotation between confederations”. According to the regulations regarding the organization of the World Cup, in fact, a continent that hosts one edition cannot apply to host the next two (with some exceptions in the event of a lack of applications).
Given that the 2030 World Cup will be hosted by three continents, the only two confederations that can apply for 2034 are the Asian one and the Oceanic one (North and Central America will instead host the 2026 edition, between the United States, Canada and Mexico). Given these communications from FIFA, hypotheses are persistently circulating that Saudi Arabia is already a great favorite for the organization of the 2034 World Cup, whose candidacy is the only certain one and is also facilitated from a recent change the requirements for the assignment.
FIFA is currently asking candidate countries for fourteen suitable stadiums with at least 40,000 seats, seven of which already exist or are under construction at the time of the application. In 2034, however, four existing stadiums will be enough, which is exactly the number of facilities that Saudi Arabia will be able to satisfy (two of which will be renovated and another is under construction).
Saudi Arabia’s interest in football is recent, but thanks to its enormous investment capabilities it has already had a significant impact. In just one year he invested almost 1 billion euros in his championship, the Saudi Pro League, which in this way attracted some of the most famous active footballers, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema. And in addition to having already secured the organization of tournaments such as the Italian and Spanish Super Cups for some time, this year Saudi Arabia will host the Club World Cup, while in 2027 it will organize the Asian Cup for the first time since 1956 .
The local football movement, however, is not yet developed in the same way, and this can be seen in particular in the stadiums. Currently only two recently built facilities exceed 40 thousand seats. The others are around twenty thousand, and many of these are dated, still have athletics tracks around the fields and open stands.
A FIFA spokesperson commented on the reduction in the minimum number of existing venues needed for the bid, saying: «The requirement of four existing stadiums for the 2034 edition is driven by a significantly longer waiting time for the tournament and is a way to ensure the best possible quality of infrastructure.” In the meantime, however, the organization is receiving criticism both for how this reduction will increase the environmental impact of the tournaments, and for having announced such important news only through a press release published online, and not as usual in a public event followed by in-depth analysis with the press.
Among the other countries that could apply for 2034, Australia and China are mentioned above all. Australia in particular is reportedly considering the possibility, but will not have much time to do so, given that expressions of interest in the candidacy must be submitted by October 31st.
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