Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Group C – Saudi Arabia v Mexico – Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar – November 30, 2022 General view as the Saudi Arabia flag is displayed on the pitch before the match REUTERS/Molly Darlington
Saudi Arabia, who has invested heavily in sports in the last couple of years, has announced its intention to bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup. If the bid is accepted, the Kingdom will be the second national GCC nation after Qatar to host the prestigious event.
Led by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), the bid for 2034 intends to deliver a world-class tournament and will draw inspiration from Saudi Arabia’s ongoing social and economic transformation and the country’s deep-rooted passion for football.
In a related development, FIFA has given 25 days to Football Australia, state and federal governments and potential Asian co-hosts to decide whether they will bid for the 2034 men’s World Cup. The tight timeline was revealed on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia announced its plans for the event.
FIFA released the bid timeline for the 2034 tournament early on Thursday, setting a deadline of 31 October 2023 for potential bids to confirm their interest. The 2034 men’s World Cup has been allocated by FIFA to bidders from Asia and Oceania.
Saudi Arabia’s inaugural FIFA World Cup bid is backed by the country’s growing experience of hosting world-class football events and its ongoing plans to welcome fans across the world to the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
Reflecting on the intention to bid, H R H Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, and Prime Minister, emphasised that Saudi Arabia’s desire to bid for the 2034 FIFA World Cup reflects the country’s progress in all sectors.
“The Kingdom has quickly emerged as a leading hub and an international destination for hosting major events thanks to its rich cultural heritage, economic strength, and the ambition of its people,” he said.
Under Vision 2030, sport is playing a significant role in contributing to the country’s economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for all and holds a unique ability to unite and bring different cultures together. Saudi Arabia will plan to provide an unparalleled experience and an event that brings joy to fans across the globe.
A renowned host for some of the biggest global sports events since 2018, Saudi Arabia has been home to over 50 international events for both male and female athletes including football, motorsports, tennis, equestrian, e-sports, and golf.
Saudi Arabia has qualified for the iconic tournament on six occasions since 1994 – most recently in 2022 – when the Green Falcons secured a historic victory over eventual champions Argentina.
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee said that hosting a FIFA World Cup in 2034 would help the Kingdom achieve its dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation.
“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,” he added.
SAFF President Yasser Al Misehalsaid that it was the right time for Saudi Arabia to host the FIFA World Cup. “Our bid is driven by a love for the game and a desire to see it grow in every corner of the world. We want to celebrate our football culture and share our country with the world,” he added.
As the FIFA World Cup expands to a 48-team tournament from 2026 onwards, tournament logistics are front of mind for players, officials, and fans. Saudi Arabia will host all matches in the Kingdom, streamlining travel, optimising match scheduling, and providing unique fan experiences across host venues and cities.
With over 70% of its population under the age of 35, Saudi Arabia is also home to one of the strongest leagues in Asia, the Saudi Pro League (SPL). Welcoming and engaging fans from across the globe, the league is home to some of the best Saudi talent and international star players from over 45 different countries.