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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s World Cup Bid Boosted By FIFA’s Stadium Rule Change

  • Saudi Arabia has emerged as the favorite to land the 2034 FIFA World Cup.
  • FIFA has relaxed its requirement for seven existing suitable stadiums.
Saudi player wins ball from Argentinian player in World Cup match-up
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a week after FIFA named the host countries for the 2030 World Cup, it’s looking more and more likely that Saudi Arabia could end up winning the right to preside over the 2034 event.

With Spain, Portugal, and Morocco serving as primary hosts in 2030, FIFA is looking for 2034 bids coming from the Asian and Oceania Football Confederations. Saudi Arabia announced its intentions to vie for the tournament last week and officially submitted its bid on Monday.

With an Oct. 31 deadline in place for any other bids, Australia is largely seen as the only potential competitor.

Previously, FIFA has required potential World Cup hosts to have seven existing stadiums that meet its capacity standards. But for 2034, FIFA has lowered that number to four — the exact number of suitable stadiums currently in Saudi Arabia or under construction. That includes a new stadium that will open ahead of the 2027 Asian Football Confederation Cup.

Pulling Out All The Stops

In its efforts to secure the 2034 World Cup, Saudi Arabia previously approached top executives in European soccer to gain support. The Saudis reportedly insist they can host the World Cup in the summer despite the challenge of hot temperatures. The 2022 World Cup in neighboring Qatar was moved out of its traditional summer window to November and December.

A World Cup would continue the nation’s growing interest in soccer. This summer, Saudi Pro League clubs spent nearly $1 billion on bringing new players to the competition during the transfer window.

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