Saudi Arabia has been confirmed as the sole bidder to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup, as announced by football’s global governing body, FIFA. The decision came after Australia withdrew its interest in hosting the tournament just hours before the bid deadline on October 31, 2023.

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2034 FIFA World Cup Saudi Arabia

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The absence of any competition leaves Saudi Arabia as the only candidate for the 2034 FIFA World Cup. FIFA had initially invited bids from Asia and Oceania for the tournament by October 31, and Saudi Arabia announced its intention to bid on October 4, shortly after FIFA’s announcement.

Australia, which had successfully hosted the Women’s World Cup earlier, had considered a bid but decided not to pursue it. This decision left Saudi Arabia as the only confirmed bidder for the 2034 FIFA World Cup.

Spain, Portugal, and Morocco were already set to co-host the 2030 World Cup, and the 2034 FIFA World cup edition was expected to be awarded to a new host.

With Saudi Arabia now being the sole candidate, FIFA stated that it would still conduct thorough bidding and evaluation processes for both the 2030 and 2034 tournaments, with the official hosts to be confirmed by October.

Saudi Arabia has until July 2024 to submit its full bid, and FIFA is due to publish its assessments at the end of the following year, leading to a confirming vote at its Congress. This process is expected to proceed, but the lack of competition has concerns in various areas.

The selection of Saudi Arabia as the sole bidder for the 2034 FIFA World Cup raises concerns about FIFA’s ability to fulfill its human rights commitments.

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have called on FIFA to ensure that human rights commitments are agreed upon with hosts before final decisions on holding the tournaments are made.

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They emphasize that FIFA must be prepared to halt the bidding process if serious human rights risks are not credibly addressed.

FIFA’s commitment to “respect internationally recognized human rights” in its competitions includes various criteria, such as sustainability and infrastructure, services, commercial and sustainability standards. With Saudi Arabia as the only bidder, these commitments face scrutiny.

There is also concern about the environmental impact of the tournament and the compatibility of the 2034 FIFA World Cup with FIFA’s human rights commitments.

While environmental sustainability is included in the award, the lack of options for hosting may affect to which these criteria can be enforced.

The decision to award the 2034 FIFA World Cup to Saudi Arabia highlights the country’s growing presence in the world of sports.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has hosted major sporting events, including Formula One races and boxing matches. The country’s investment in the sports world has disrupted the traditional order of sports events.

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also ventured into football, with its clubs signing international players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Hosting the World Cup would further solidify Saudi Arabia’s position in the global sports landscape.

However, the country’s involvement in sports has led to accusations of sportswashing, where international sports events are used to divert attention from human rights violations.

Saudi Arabia has faced criticism for its human rights record, and its bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup has concerns in this regard.

Saudi Arabia, like Qatar, where the 2022 World Cup was held, has laws that criminalize homosexuality. Activists and human rights organizations are calling on FIFA and the Saudi authorities to address concerns related to the safety and well-being of LGBTIQ+ people at the 2034 FIFA world cup tournament.

The awarding of the 2034 FIFA World Cup to Saudi Arabia marks a moment in the country’s sports journey. It also signifies the changing of global sports events and the importance of human rights and sustainability in hosting such events.

As the only confirmed bidder, Saudi Arabia now faces the challenge of meeting FIFA’s requirements and addressing the concerns raised by human rights organizations and environmental advocates.

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