Will Saudi Arabia host the 2030 World Cup?

Saudi Arabia has an ambition to host the 2030 World Cup.

The 2030 World Cup could be co-hosted in Saudi Arabia and Italy, with the Middle Eastern country eyeing a European co-host for its bid.

The idea to host Euro 2020 across the whole of Europe wasn’t exactly a popular one, even before Covid-19 meant that travel between the countries was nigh on impossible.

Fans also aren’t too impressed with Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, especially with the increasing allegations on human rights abuse, religious intolerance and gender inequality in the country.

The media is rife with an idea that global football might take the worst of both worlds for the 2030 World Cup, with Saudi Arabia looking for a European co-host for their tournament bid. According to Athletico, the Saudis are considering Euro 2020 champions Italy as their potential partner, with FIFA now preferring more than one country as the host.

Although rumours of Saudi Arabia hosting the 2030 World Cup started in 2021, media frenzy surfaced in recent days after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was seen sitting next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the opening match of the tournament. Saudi Arabia was obviously not playing a match at that particular time. 

US firm Boston Consultancy Group is said to be helping the Middle Eastern country with their strategy for trying to get the World Cup.

They have looked into a potential partnership with Egypt and Morocco, to make a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) connection, which would seem to make geographic sense.

However there is questions over the two African countries ability to host the World Cup based on infrastructure and commercial issues.

That could mean a link up with Europe. That would seem problematic but the distance over 2,200 miles between the two countries might not be as big a problem as one might think.

“Winning the World Cup” means more than lifting the trophy these days. No doubt, should Saudi Arabia host 2030, it will be hailed as the “best World Cup ever” before during and after the tournament, to follow the same pattern as with Qatar.

For Saudi, landing the trophy tournament in 2030 could offer rehabilitation on the world stage for crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. He was initially lauded as a reformer who might lead the kingdom on a path to modernity, until the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi left it a pariah. The country’s role in the bombing in Yemen, restrictions on women’s rights and its use of the death penalty have further damaged its international reputation. Recently, Saudi’s decision to defy American pressure on oil production has frayed already uneasy relations.