Saudi Arabia's bid for the 2034 World Cup gained momentum following this significant development.

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Saudi Arabia’s bid for the 2034 World Cup gained momentum following this significant development.

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Indonesian soccer leader Erick Thohir declared on Wednesday that his federation is now backing Saudi Arabia’s bid for the 2034 World Cup. Thohir’s announcement marked a shift from previous discussions regarding a potential joint bid with

Australia to co-host the event. This change of plan was formally communicated through a statement on the Indonesian soccer federation website just hours before an online meeting of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which encompasses 47 member nations, including Australia, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

During the AFC meeting, FIFA President Gianni Infantino emphasized the importance of unity among member nations in preparation for the 2034 World Cup. Infantino’s close ties with Saudi soccer and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have influenced FIFA’s decision to expedite the bidding process for the 2034 men’s tournament, favoring Saudi Arabia.

As per FIFA’s recent directive, only member federations of the AFC and Oceania’s soccer body, including New Zealand and various Pacific islands, are eligible to bid for the 2034 tournament. The organizations were given until October 31 to express their interest and just a month more to submit a comprehensive bidding agreement with government support.

Saudi Arabia promptly confirmed its intention to bid following FIFA’s announcement on October 4, garnering immediate support from AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa. However, speculation surrounding a potential Australia-Indonesia bid, potentially involving Malaysia and Singapore, has underscored a lack of unity within the Asian football community, contrary to Sheikh Salman’s earlier claims.

Australia now finds itself somewhat isolated in its bid efforts if it intends to follow up on its successful co-hosting of the 2023 Women’s World Cup with New Zealand. Infantino, emphasizing the need for solidarity, conveyed a message to AFC members during the meeting, calling for unity in the face of existing global divisions.

Infantino restated his earlier call for unity among the soccer officials, echoing his message from a recent meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, emphasizing the importance of solidarity in Asia for the successful hosting of the 2034 World Cup. FIFA’s plan is to confirm the hosts for both the 2030 and 2034 World Cups in late next year, during separate gatherings involving its 211-member federations.

The joint bid led by Europe, comprising Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the inaugural 1930 host, has emerged as the favored choice for the 2030 World Cup. The rotation of hosting duties between continents by FIFA excludes the South American soccer body from the 2034 bidding process, despite the region having secured a solitary game in the 104-match schedule.

CONCACAF, the soccer body representing North and Central America, will take its turn in 2026, with the United States, Canada, and Mexico set to co-host the first 48-team, 104-game edition.

Erick Thohir, an Indonesian government minister with close ties to Infantino, announced Indonesia’s aspirations to host the World Cup when Asia’s next opportunity arises after 2034, possibly in 2046. Indonesia is set to host the men’s Under-17 World Cup for FIFA next month, having been stripped of the Under-20 version in March due to the nation’s refusal to host matches involving Israel, a decision rooted in its status as a predominantly Muslim country.

The Australian soccer federation has also expressed interest in hosting the 32-team Club World Cup for FIFA in 2029. Saudi Arabia is preparing to host the final annual seven-team Club World Cup for FIFA in December before the tournament transforms into a quadrennial, 32-team event, commencing in June 2025 in the United States.

Reference:

https://sports.ndtv.com/football/saudi-arabias-2034-world-cup-bid-boosted-after-this-decision-4492303

https://www.elpasoinc.com/saudi-arabias-2034-world-cup-bid-boosted-by-indonesia-changing-sides-after-australia-co-host/article_e0da16fc-f2ac-5f5b-b8cb-fe77ed2702d5.html

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