Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism has claimed that the country “does not have an official bid to host the FIFA World Cup”, despite being strongly linked to a joint project with Egypt and Greece.
However, it admitted that the country “is always considering to host a number of large sporting events, as part of promoting sport and tourism in the Kingdom in line with Saudi Vision 2030”.
Saudi Arabia has also proved a destination of note for numerous professional boxing fights, is a Formula 1 Grand Prix host, has carved out influence within esports and has been awarded several multi-sport events.
These include the 2034 Asian Games, next year’s World Combat Games, the 2025 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and the 2029 Asian Winter Games.
A Saudi bid for the 2030 World Cup has long been mooted, although initial reports of a project with Italy failed to materialise.
Egypt and Greece have more recently been viewed as the most likely partners for a reported Saudi-led bid, which would again require matches to be played in the northern hemisphere’s winter as is happening for the first time at the ongoing 2022 edition of the World Cup in Qatar.
Egypt’s Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi said in August that work was underway on the three-country bid.
It was the Saudi Arabian Football Federation which formally proposed exploring the possibility for FIFA to stage its men’s and women’s World Cups every two years rather than every four in May 2021, although this idea has lost momentum in light of stiff European and South American opposition, and Infantino distanced himself from the proposal at this year’s Congress.
Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal admitted in a recent BBC interview that the country hopes to stage the World Cup.
However, a Ministry of Tourism statement Wednesday insisted it “does not have an official bid”. –insidethegames