Australia’s Deadline vs. Saudi’s 2034 World Cup Bid

Fifa recently issued Football Australia with 25 days to make a decision regarding whether they submit a bid for the 2034 men’s World Cup bid process, after Saudi Arabia announced their desire to host this prestigious tournament, garnering support from Asia’s most powerful football governing body (AFF).

Fifa released their bid timeline for the 2034 World Cup early Thursday morning, setting October 31st as the deadline for potential bidders to register their interest. Asia and Oceania have been given rights to host this men’s World Cup tournament.

James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, expressed that their organization is actively “exploring the possibility” of bidding for the 2034 World Cup. He thanked Fifa’s communication in their regard and highlighted Qatar 2022 and Australia/New Zealand 2023 being successful hosting these premier FIFA events as hosts for Asia/Oceania to once more shine brightly as hosts.

As soon as Fifa made their announcement, Saudi Arabia swiftly declared their bid for the 2034 tournament. Yasser Al Misehal, President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, noted it is “time” for Saudi Arabia to host and highlighted that their bid’s motivation stems from their love for sports as well as desire to promote it globally while taking advantage of transformative developments within Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s bid for hosting both men’s and women’s Asian Cup tournaments in 2026 is not without controversy, given that its human rights record and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year have drawn international scrutiny; some critics even charge Saudi Arabia with engaging in “sportswashing.” 

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Yet, its bid is controversial due to both factors; Saudi Arabia has come under international scrutiny due to human rights abuses committed against its own citizens, such as Jamal Khashoggi; critics have accused it of engaging in “sportswashing”. Australia has come out against Saudi Arabia in support of this matter;

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, President of the Asian Football Confederation and Senior Vice President on Fifa Council expressed his delight with Saudi Arabia’s initiative and pledged his full support of Asian football family in helping ensure its success.

James Johnson had previously alluded to discussions regarding an Australian bid for the 2034 World Cup and stressed its significance by initiating discussions and shaping agendas for bids in preparation of bidding processes.

If Australia opts to bid, co-hosts such as New Zealand or Southeast Asian nations would also need to come on board as co-hosts; bidding process requires at least 14 stadiums.

Since Fifa anticipates making their decision by late 2024, bids should be submitted no later than July 2024 by associations interested in bidding.

Australia and New Zealand hosted this year’s Women’s World Cup at an estimated cost of approximately $170 million, of which one third was covered by government contributions. Australia also spent another $46.6 million of public funding as part of their unsuccessful bid for 2022 World Cup host Qatar which received one vote from Fifa’s decision-makers.

Morocco, Spain and Portugal currently hold the sole bidder for the 2030 World Cup: they plan on including celebratory matches in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay as part of their bid. Meanwhile, 2026 men’s World Cup will be hosted by United States, Canada and Mexico while in May 2019 host teams will be announced for 2027 women’s World Cup tournament.

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