Australia's withdrawal left the way clear for the designation of the next host country for the 2030 event

FIFA selects Saudi Arabia for the 2034 World Cup with a message of "unity and inclusion"

Gianni Infantino, presidente de la FIFA - REUTERS/ASANKA BREDON
REUTERS/ASANKA BREDON - Gianni Infantino, FIFA President

Australia's bid for the 2034 World Cup sent a statement to FIFA saying: "We have considered the possibility of submitting a bid to host the FIFA World Cup and, after taking all factors into account, have decided not to bid for the 2034 competition".   

Those factors are the venues where previous World Cups have been hosted with the unwritten rule of changing continents. In 2022 it was organised for the first time in Qatar (Asia), in 2026 it will be held in America (United States, Canada and Mexico) and in 2030 there will be a special edition that will start in South America (Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) and then move on to Europe (Spain and Portugal) and Africa (Morocco). Faced with this dance of continents, Australia, the largest country in Oceania, had options for 2034, but Saudi Arabia was bidding hard to return a World Cup to Asia 12 years after Qatar and Messi's coronation.   

PHOTO/BANDAR ALGALOUD/Cortesía de la Corte Real de Arabia Saudí - El príncipe heredero de Arabia Saudí, Mohamed bin Salman
PHOTO/BANDAR ALGALOUD/Courtesy of the Royal Court of Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

FIFA received a UN General Assembly resolution in April 2020 recognising the Qatar 2022 World Cup as the first such event to be held in the Middle East and encouraging the relevant authorities to ensure it will leave a lasting legacy for peace and development in the region. This support has led the body chaired by Gianni Infantino to choose Saudi Arabia for 2034 after its interest for 2030 along with Greece and Egypt, which eventually went to Morocco, Spain and Portugal.   

Another of the countries that considered bidding to host 2034 was Indonesia in a joint bid with Australia or with countries such as New Zealand, Malaysia or Singapore. The option of Oceania for this event after the Women's World Cup in Sydney was an important incentive.   

Infantino was quick to announce Saudi Arabia as the host country for 2034 and put the icing on the cake of this kingdom's huge economic effort to become a world sporting power. "The bidding processes were approved by consensus through the FIFA Council, where the six confederations are represented, after constructive dialogue and extensive consultation. Thank you to all those involved in this positive exchange," he said.   

PHOTO/WILLIAM VOLCOV/BRAZIL PHOTO PRESS/BRAZIL PHOTO PRESS VÍA AFP - El Trofeo de la Copa Mundial de la FIFA se muestra en el terreno de juego en la final de la Copa Mundial de Qatar 2022 entre Argentina y Francia en el Estadio Lusail en Lusail, al norte de Doha, el 18 de diciembre de 2022
PHOTO/WILLIAM VOLCOV/BRAZIL PHOTO PRESS/BRAZIL PHOTO PRESS VIA AFP - The FIFA World Cup Trophy is shown on the pitch at the Qatar 2022 World Cup final between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha, on December 18, 2022

Since 2018, Spain has been hosting the Spanish Super Cup in the home country of English club Newcastle. It has also launched the LIV golf tour, a parallel circuit that rivals the PGA, will host the big heavyweight boxing match between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in February 2024 and will have a boosted cycling tour in 2020. The sports investment programme (SIP) approved by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has its jewel in the crown in the domestic league stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema, but is also seeking Formula One and tennis rights.   

Infantino said that "football unites the world like no other sport", and that the World Cup "is the perfect showcase for a message of unity and inclusion". He said it provided "an important illustration of how different cultures can come together and learn to understand each other better".   

"We live in an increasingly divided and aggressive world. We all need these occasions of unity and the upcoming FIFA World Cups provide a unique force for good in this regard," he said in finalising world football's top body's roadmap for the next decade.