Saudi Arabia launches formal bid to host 2034 World Cup

Kingdom all but certain to succeed as no other country expressed interest before Fifa's deadline last October

'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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Saudi Arabia has launched its formal bid to host the 2034 World Cup, as it looks to become the second country from the Middle East to hold the tournament.

With Morocco, Portugal and Spain set to share the hosting of the 2030 tournament, football's world governing body Fifa limited the 2034 contest to bidders from the Asian and Oceania confederations.

No other country expressed an interest before Fifa's October 2023 deadline, after Australia opted out of contesting for the global finals, meaning that the kingdom's bid is all but certain to succeed.

Qatar became the first Middle East nation to stage the finals when it hosted the tournament won by Lionel Messi's Argentina, who defeated France on penalties in the 2022 final.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation said its “Growing. Together.” World Cup campaign would showcase the way the nation was strengthening bonds with other countries through sport.

The kingdom has invested heavily in high-profile sports such as Formula One, boxing and golf over the last few years, while the Saudi Pro League has attracted some of the biggest names in world football including Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane.

The Saudi national team is now coached by Roberto Mancini who won the Euro 2020 tournament when manager of Italy and was in charge at Manchester City when they secured their first Premier League title in 44 years in 2012.

“Telling our football story to the world is of massive importance. And we believe 'Growing. Together.' is the perfect, yet simple description of our approach to hopefully hosting the tournament in 10 years’ time,” SAFF president Yasser Al Misehal said in a statement on Friday.

“Bidding to host a Fifa World Cup is only made possible by the rapid transformation the country is enjoying. We’ve made unprecedented progress in both the men’s and women’s game and our bid is an open invitation to the world to join us on this exciting journey.

“As we proved when we welcomed over 100 nationalities to the Fifa Club World Cup Saudi Arabia 2023 in Jeddah, the future is bright when we grow together.”

SAFF has also revealed its bid logo, website and a short film that celebrates football in Saudi Arabia. The logo “is designed to capture the essence of Saudi Arabia's young nation, vibrant society and rich heritage”, the federation said.

“This campaign is powered by the hopes and dreams of 32 million people in Saudi Arabia,” said head of the 2034 bid, Hammad Albalawi.

“Our responsibility is to submit the best possible bid to Fifa, make our country proud, and fulfil the trust placed upon us by more than 130 Member Associations across the world who supported our bid.

“Under Vision 2030 and the unconditional support of our country’s leadership, sport is helping unlock the passion and potential of our people, and as our campaign slogan says, Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the Fifa World Cup 2034 is all about being part of a global football family, with fans, players and federations all growing together.”

The next step in the process is the submission of the full bid documents in July, with the appointment of hosts for both the 2030 and 2034 World Cups set to be rubber stamped at a Fifa Congress towards the end of the year.

The next World Cup will take place in the United States, Mexico and Canada in 2026 – which sees the first 48-team tournament.

Updated: March 02, 2024, 11:20 AM