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Australia faces tight deadline for 2034 FIFA Men’s World Cup bid as Saudi Arabia throws hat in the ring

FIFA has granted Australia and other potential Asian co-hosts 25 days to decide if they will bid for the 2034 World Cup.

This tight timeline was revealed the same day Saudi Arabia announced its intention to host the tournament while receiving the backing of Asia’s most influential football administrator.

FIFA’s bid timeline for the 2034 tournament was received early on Thursday morning, setting a deadline of October 31 for prospective bids to confirm their interest. 

The tournament has been designated for bidders from Asia and Oceania.

CEO of Football Australia, James Johnson, said (via the Guardian): “We acknowledge FIFA’s communication regarding the FIFA World Cup 2034.

“We are encouraged that after the hugely successful FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023, the football family of Asia and Oceania will once again have the opportunity to showcase their ability to welcome the world and host the best FIFA tournaments.”

Saudi Arabia, a country that has recently made substantial investments in football, wasted no time declaring its intentions to bid for the 2034 tournament. 

President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, Yasser Al Misehal, said: “Our bid is driven by a love for the game and a desire to see it grow in every corner of the world. 

“The Kingdom’s transformation journey is the driving force behind our bid.”

However, Saudi Arabia’s bid has come under scrutiny due to its human rights record and the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Critics have labelled the country’s massive sports investments as ‘sportswashing’.

Co-hosts, potentially including New Zealand and some Asia countries, will be essential for any Australian bid for the 2034 tournament, as FIFA’s bidding documents stipulate a minimum of 14 stadiums.

After the October 31 deadline for associations to confirm their interest in bidding, bids must be submitted by July 2024, with FIFA making a final decision late in 2025.

This announcement comes on the heels of the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which cost $170 million, including $120m in government contributions. 

Australia’s previous bid for the 2022 men’s World Cup, hosted by Qatar, used $46m in public funding and was criticised after receiving just one vote from FIFA’s decision-makers.

The joint proposal from Morocco, Spain and Portugal remains the sole bidder for the 2030 tournament, which marks the World Cup’s 100th anniversary and plans to include ‘celebratory’ matches in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. 

United States, Canada and Mexico will host the 2026 World Cup, while the host of the 2027 Women’s World Cup will be announced in May next year.

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