Saudi Arabia set to host 2034 FIFA World Cup after Australia withdraws
Australia will not be bidding for the 2034 World Cup, Football Federation Australia announced on Tuesday. This means that the tournament will be hosted by Saudi Arabia, the only remaining candidate.
Southeast Asian countries had been planning to bid for the 2034 World Cup, and a joint bid by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia was leaked earlier this month. But a few days later, Malaysia pulled out, expressing its support for Saudi Arabia, leaving the Middle Eastern country as the only candidate.
"Barely a year after the human rights disaster that was the Qatar World Cup, FIFA has apparently not learned its lesson."
Only countries from Asia or Oceania were eligible to bid for the 2034 World Cup. In a surprise move, FIFA awarded the 2030 World Cup to Spain, Portugal and Morocco in October, with the first three matches to be played in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay in honour of the 100th anniversary of the FIFA World Cup.
The tournament in 2030 will be played on three different continents: Europe, Africa and South America. In 2026, it will be held in North and Central America, with Canada, the USA and Mexico as hosts. Therefore, according to FIFA, only Asian and Oceanian countries will be eligible to host the tournament in 2034.
Shortened selection process
In another surprise move, countries interested in hosting the 2034 tournament were given just 27 days to submit their bids. And the selection process, which was expected to last until 2027, will be completed next year. The deadline for bids is Tuesday 31 October.
This process leaves Saudi Arabia as the sole candidate and, without competition, the de facto organiser of the 2034 World Cup. Human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch have already voiced their criticism. "Barely a year after the human rights disaster that was the Qatar World Cup, FIFA has apparently not learned its lesson."
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) and FIFA President Gianni Infantino (middle) attending the launch of the Esports World Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. © SPA / AFP