If Saudi Arabia could have designed a process for choosing future World Cup hosts, it might look similar to what FIFA unveiled this week for the 2030 and 2034 men’s soccer tournaments.
The Saudi Arabian soccer federation became the favored — and possibly only — candidate to host the biggest event in the world’s favorite sport in 2034.
A key decision that fell Saudi Arabia’s way came on Wednesday when FIFA united Europe, Africa, and South America around a sole bid for 2030 in an unprecedented co-hosting team of Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Argentina, Paraguay and inaugural 1930 World Cup host Uruguay.
Those continents are now removed from the 2034 picture, even though the three South American countries accepted just one game each. That also let FIFA president Gianni Infantino deliver another surprise by fast-tracking the hosting contest to open immediately.
Only FIFA member federations from Asia and Oceania will be able to apply for hosting in 2034 — a tournament with 48 teams playing 104 games over nearly six weeks.
Saudi Arabia declared its long-expected interest on Wednesday within hours of the FIFA decision.
Focus also turned to Australia, maybe in a potential reunion with 2023 Women’s World Cup co-host New Zealand.