SAFF: Saudi Arabia hosting 2034 World Cup 'is what dreams are made of for all generations'

Kingdom announces bid to host global finals for first time, with Australia expected to also register interest

'Hosting a World Cup means everything to us,' says Saudi football president

'Hosting a World Cup means everything to us,' says Saudi football president
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Hosting the 2034 World Cup will be Saudi Arabia’s “invitation to the world to witness its development experience, welcoming society, culture and heritage and become part of its history”, said the president of the kingdom’s football association.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to stage for the first time football’s showpiece tournament, following confirmation that Morocco would form one of three main hosts for the 2030 edition, alongside Spain and Portugal.

Fifa, football’s world governing body, invited member federations from the Asia and Oceania regions to submit bids, with Australia expected to register a proposal after the successful co-hosting of this year’s Women’s World Cup with New Zealand. The chosen candidate is expected to be announced at a Fifa congress next year.

If the Saudi bid proves successful, it would mark the second time a Gulf country has held the World Cup. Last year, Qatar became the first Arab nation to host a global finals.

Then, Saudi Arabia competed in the World Cup for a sixth time, defeating eventual champions Argentina in Doha in November to register one of the greatest shocks in tournament history.

In a video released by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) on Wednesday night, its president, Yasser Al Misehal, said: “Hosting a World Cup in Saudi Arabia would mean everything to us. We are a football nation, and this is what dreams are made of for all the generations, young and old, boys and girls.

“I believe the whole world saw the great passion of all our fans in the last World Cup 2022. That passion, noise, energy, and colour. I think young kids in Saudi today will be dreaming of this and, in fact, we want to help them achieve this dream in 2034.

“We already took part in six previous World Cups. So the chance to do so in 2034 on home soil and in the front of our fans and Saudi Arabia will be incredible.”

Al Misehal said host cities for 2034 would be connected by “state-of-the-art facilities to guarantee an amazing fan experience”.

He highlighted the kingdom’s past experience of staging major international football events – Saudi has recently hosted both the Spanish Super Cup and the Italian Super Cup - with the country set this December to welcome for the first time the Fifa Club World Cup. European champions Manchester City headline.

In February, the kingdom was confirmed to host the 2027 Asian Cup, while it has also bid to stage the women’s edition of the continent’s marquee tournament in 2026.

Domestically, the Saudi Pro League has undergone a significant revamp following a summer in which it has signed the likes of Neymar, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, N’Golo Kante and Jordan Henderson. Global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo moved to the league in January.

Talking about one of SAFF's primary objectives, Al Misehal said: “2034 is a very significant year for us. It is when we set ourselves the target of becoming one of the top 20 football nations in men's football.

“We want to be at our best level when we host the world, not only on the pitch but also off the pitch. We already have very good and strong existing football infrastructure.

“We've already welcomed thousands of international fans for events like the Spanish and the Italian Super Cups. And now, of course, our Saudi Pro League has a lot of fans coming into the country.

“Also, since we will host the 2027 Asian Cup, we have already plans for a number of upgrades and some new world-class stadiums. We are working hard to deliver them in the most sustainable ways.

“If our successful past events are anything to go by, then fans will have an absolutely incredible experience in 2034.”

Al Misehal added: “The impact we want to have by hosting the World Cup is very simple. We want to grow the game for everyone. We want to host the world.

“The 2034 World Cup is our invitation to the world to witness Saudi Arabia's development experience, its welcoming society, culture and heritage and become part of its history.

“Our commitment to everyone is really to deliver a memorable World Cup that will bring the football world together.”

The 2026 World Cup, which will expand to 48 teams, is to be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Updated: October 05, 2023, 1:30 PM