Following the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this past winter, talk about Saudi Arabia hosting the prestigious championship spread like wildfire.
After a period of less than a year, it has been made clear that Saudi Arabia will host the FIFA Men’s World Cup in the year 2034, barring the occurrence of any unexpected events.
This prediction has been based on the assumption that no unforeseen occurrences will take place.
Saudi Arabia is the only country openly interested in hosting the 48-team championship, with the support of more than 100 FIFA member nations as well as the Asian Football Confederation.
Notably, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who has recently displayed a considerable interest in the country’s sports sector, wholeheartedly supports it.
The unexpected nature of Saudi Arabia’s uncontested success took many by surprise.
At a FIFA council meeting in October, where discussions about the future of international football were expected, a seemingly innocuous item on the agenda, “Bidding processes and hosting of the FIFA World Cup™,” held the key to Saudi Arabia’s triumph.
New rules were proposed, overturning the bid timing regulations established just a decade prior and guaranteeing the rotation of the tournament between all confederations, with Asia or Oceania set to host in 2034.
These changes paved the way for Saudi Arabia’s successful bid, and they were swiftly approved by the meeting’s attendees, including the top football administrators worldwide.
Remarkably, there has been no public outcry over the handling of this process, and even countries with prior ambitions, like Australia, accepted the expedited decision-making timeline and chose not to compete.
The acceptance of this new approach highlights that FIFA and football, in line with Infantino’s global ambitions, are becoming a truly worldwide sport.
The journey of the FIFA World Cup to the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal and political dissent is met with severe consequences, raises important questions about how European nations, including England, will engage with the tournament’s sociopolitical issues.
Moreover, European leagues may need to adapt to another winter World Cup, disrupting their regular schedules.
This result marks a change in the balance of power for numerous nations that have agreements with the Saudi Football Federation to support their development and resources.
As a result of the World Cup, FIFA and the larger football community expect a large amount of Saudi investment, either in the form of sponsorship deals or memorandums of understanding (MOUs).
Under the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is pursuing a number of ambitious objectives, but it is unclear what the country’s ultimate goals in the sports world are.
Prince Mohammed said last month that he was excited about the idea of “sportswashing” as a way to stimulate the economy of the country.
However, many countries have discovered that organizing big athletic events isn’t always the easiest method to spur economic expansion.
Just four of the fourteen stadiums needed to host the competition are now in situ in Saudi Arabia, meaning that much of the infrastructure still needs to be developed.
In conclusion, Saudi Arabia’s de facto confirmation as the 2034 FIFA World Cup host nation is a powerful representation of the nation’s expanding prominence in the sports industry.
As the world observes, concerns about what lies ahead and how Saudi Arabia intends to take advantage of this enormous chance to revolutionize both its sports and its economy remain.