Saudi Arabia confirmed as sole bidder for 2034 World Cup

Football Australia decision leaves Saudi bid unopposed

Saudi Arabia fans watch a World Cup match at a fan screening in Marsool Park, Riyadh on November 26, 2022. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Saudi Arabia is set to land the 2034 World Cup after Australia opted out of bidding for the tournament.

Fifa confirmed on Tuesday that their deadline for declaring an interest in hosting the tournament had passed and that Saudi Arabia was the only association to present a bid.

The world governing body says it will now “conduct thorough bidding and evaluation processes” ahead of formal ratification next year.

Football Australia yesterday issued a statement saying it had “explored the opportunity” of a bid but had decided against it. “Having taken all factors into consideration, we have reached the conclusion not to do so for the 2034 competition,” the statement read.

“Football Australia is ambitious to bring more major tournaments to our shores. We believe we are in a strong position to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026 and then welcome the greatest teams in world football for the 2029 Fifa Club World Cup.”

It said hosting those events, in between the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, would complete a “truly golden decade for Australian football”.

Saudi Arabia announced its declaration of interest within hours of Fifa outlining the process for hosting the 2034 tournament.

The awarding of the 2026 finals to the US, Canada and Mexico followed by Spain, Portugal and Morocco being set to host the 2030 finals – subject to formal approval by Fifa’s congress – means that only bids from the Asian Football Confederation and the Oceania Football Confederation will be considered for the 2034 finals.

Saudi Arabia confirmed on October 4 that it would bid for the showpiece tournament in 2034 when Saudi Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said in a statement via the Saudi Press Agency: “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.

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

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

“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.”

Saudi Arabia's bid to host the 2034 finals already has the backing of a host of countries.

The Turkish Football Federation gave its backing earlier in October, while Thailand, Cuba, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines are others, The National understands. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the continent's governing body, has also officially declared its support for Saudi Arabia's bid.

The host nation automatically qualifies for the global finals. The World Cup was held in the Middle East for the first time last year in Qatar, where Saudi Arabia delivered one of the shocks of the tournament by beating eventual champions Argentina in the group stage.

In all Saudi Arabia's national team has competed in six World Cup tournaments.

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.

Updated: November 01, 2023, 6:52 AM