All looks good for oil-rich Saudi Arabia to host the FIFA 2034 World Cup after Australia on Tuesday pulled out from the race to host the biggest football carnival.
The World Football governing body, FIFA, had invited bids from Asia and Oceania for the 2034 World Cup, with a deadline for submitting bids on October 31.
The Australian bid was regarded as the only potential challenger to Saudi Arabia, which announced its intention to bid shortly after FIFA’s decision.
Football Australia (FA) boss James Johnson had said the country was “exploring the possibility” of 2034. Still, on Tuesday, the governing body said it would instead focus on bids for the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup and the 2029 Club World Cup.
Australia’s decision leaves Saudi Arabia as the only confirmed bidder for the 2034 World Cup.
Saudi Arabia’s bid has received massive support from the Asian Football Confederation and would likely get the hosting right.
The president of the Asian Football Confederation, the sport’s continental governing body said “the entire Asian football family” would stand united in support of the Saudi bid.
Qatar successfully staged the 2022 World Cup in winter, and the 2034 \World Cup would likely be held in the winter because of the extreme heat in the summer.
The 2026 World Cup will occur in the US, Mexico and Canada.
Morocco, Portugal and Spain will host the 2030 tournament, with matches also in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Saudi Arabia has hosted several major sporting events since 2018, like football, Formula One, Golf and Boxing and hosting the FIFA World Cup further boosts the country’s GDP and puts it on the global map.
Saudi Arabia sports minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, said the 2034 World Cup bid “constitutes an important and natural step in our journey as a country passionate about football”.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in September said: “If sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by 1%, then we’ll continue doing sportswashing.”
Saudi Arabia announced it would bid only minutes after soccer’s global governing body called for Asia and Oceania bids on October 4.
Australia hosted a successful Women’s World Cup this year but has never hosted a men’s World Cup.
“We believe we are in a strong position to host the oldest women’s international competition in the world – the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026 – and then welcome the greatest teams in world football for the 2029 FIFA Club World Cup,” FA said.