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Saudi Arabia launches bid to host FIFA World Cup 2034

Saudi Arabia has announced its bid to host the 2034 World Cup after FIFA, the world soccer’s governing body, invited “member associations from the territories of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Oceania Football Confederation” to submit bids.

The kingdom’s bid for FIFA World Cup 2034, which is led by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), intends to deliver a world-class tournament and draws inspiration from the country’s ongoing social and economic transformation in line with Vision 2030.

“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,”SAFF said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia has qualified for the iconic tournament on six occasions since 1994 – most recently in 2022 – when the country’s national team, the Green Falcons, secured a historic victory over eventual champions Argentina.

“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,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Minister of Sport and president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

“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.”

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 plans to host all matches within its borders streamlining travel, optimising match scheduling, and providing unique fan experiences across host venues and cities.

Saudi Arabia, an emerging sports hub

Meanwhile, sports is one of the pillars of Saudi Arabia’s global ambitions under the Vision 2030 plan that seeks to build new industries and create jobs.

The country has emerged as a sporting hub and an international destination for hosting major events, thanks to its rich cultural heritage, economic strength and the ambition of its people. Public Investment Fund, the country’s wealth fund that manages close to $800bn of assets, has taken a greater role in the football league recently, acquiring majority stakes in four of the biggest clubs, including Al-Hilal.

Saudi Arabia unveiled its sports clubs investment and privatisation project in June. The launch of the sports clubs’ privatisation plan comes as the kingdom has flexed its financial might in recent months by luring some of the best soccer players from European clubs with lucrative contracts, including Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, N’Golo Kante, Jordan Henderson and Liverpool great Neymar who joined Al-Hilal Saudi Football Club (Al-Hilal) in August.

Cristiano Ronaldo joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on a $75m-per-year contract last year. The Saudi league hopes to raise the profile of soccer in the country.