Australia dropping out left Saudi Arabia as the lone remaining bidder for the 2034 festivities.
Saudi Arabia will host the 2034 FIFA Men’s World Cup, FIFA announced on Tuesday. The decision came after Australia dropped its bid to host, which left Saudi Arabia as the lone remaining bidder.
“As established in the Bidding Regulations approved by the FIFA Council, the FIFA administration will conduct thorough bidding and evaluation processes for the 2030 and 2034 editions of the FIFA World Cup, with the hosts to be appointed by FIFA Congresses expected to take place by Q4 2024,” FIFA said on Tuesday. But with Saudi Arabia now the only candidate, FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed its winning bid on Instagram.
The Saudis’ path to 2034 was paved in early October, when FIFA awarded the 2030 Men’s World Cup to six countries on three continents. The winning bid came from Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, but Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay were awarded group stage matches to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. By rule, rotational regional requirements disqualified 2026 host North America and 2030 hosts Europe, Africa, and South America from bidding for 2034. That left the Middle East and Oceania as the only permitted bidders, with FIFA regulations all but assuring this result when Australia declined to even present.
It’s the culmination of a year-long process of Saudi Arabia investing billions into sports, which critics would point to as a distraction from the Saudis’ human rights abuses. The Saudi Pro League brought over soccer superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema with astronomical, record-breaking salaries. Meanwhile, well-funded upstart LIV Golf recruited legends like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson before agreeing to a merger with the PGA Tour in a still-ongoing process. With the World Cup coming to Saudi Arabia for the first time, it further cements sportswashing’s massive success.
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