Saudi Arabia set to host 2034 World Cup after Australia does not bid

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Saudi Arabia set to host 2034 World Cup after Australia does not bid

Saudi Arabia is set to host the men’s 2034 World Cup after Fifa confirmed it was the only bidder for the tournament.

Australia decided against bidding to stage the tournament hours before Fifa’s deadline for declarations of interest on Tuesday.

Morocco, Portugal and Spain are the only bidders for the 2030 edition, with games also played in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

A Fifa congress will confirm the hosts in late 2024.

The 2026 World Cup will take place in the US, Mexico and Canada.

“Three editions, five continents and 10 countries involved in staging matches in the tournament – that’s making football truly global,” Fifa president Gianni Infantino wrote on Instagram.

“As we live in an increasingly divided and aggressive world, we show once again that football, the leading global sport, unites like nothing else.”

Australia’s governing body Football Australia says it intends to focus its efforts on hosting the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026 and the Club World Cup in 2029.

Football’s world governing body Fifa had said the 2034 World Cup would be held in Asia or Oceania, and an Australian bid was regarded as the only potential challenger to Saudi Arabia, which announced its intention to bid shortly after Fifa’s decision.

After Tuesday’s deadline passed, football’s world governing body confirmed the bids for the 2030 and 2034 World Cups and said there will now be “thorough bidding and evaluation processes” for the tournaments.

Fifa said it will “conduct a targeted dialogue with bidders, to ensure complete, comprehensive bids are received and evaluated against the minimum hosting requirements as also previously approved by the Fifa Council.

“This dialogue will focus on the defined priority areas of the event vision and key metrics, infrastructure, services, commercial, and sustainability and human rights.”

Saudi Arabian Football Federation president Yasser Al Misehal said: “Driven by a huge passion for the game by our young nation, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation is fully committed to meeting and exceeding the bid’s requirements.”

He also said hosting tournament would be offer an “open invitation to the world to experience our rich football culture”.

Despite receiving support from the Asian Football Confederation, Saudi Arabia would likely be viewed as a controversial host.

It has been criticised for its human rights violations – 81 men were executed on one day last year – women’s rights abuses, the criminalisation of homosexuality, the restriction of free speech and the war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s international standing was severely damaged by the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a US-based Saudi journalist who was a prominent critic of the government.

Human rights campaigners say sport is being used by the Saudi government to detract from long-standing reputation issues, a process known as ‘sportswashing’.

Last week Human Rights Watch said: “The possibility that Fifa could award Saudi Arabia the 2034 World Cup despite its appalling human rights record and closed door to any monitoring exposes Fifa’s commitments to human rights as a sham.”

On Tuesday Amnesty International called on Fifa to secure “clear and binding commitments” from Saudi Arabia.

It said: “Human rights commitments must be agreed with potential hosts before final decisions on holding the tournaments are made.