— Published 10 October 2023

Saudi Arabia has made its bid official

No time to lose. Just a few days after announcing its intention to bid to host the FIFA World Cup? in 2034, Saudi Arabia has already put its plans into practice with an official letter of application. The letter was sent by the Saudi Football Association to FIFA on Monday 9 October. Unlike the 2030 World Cup, where Saudi Arabia’s name was mentioned as part of a joint bid with Greece and Egypt, the Saudis are entering the battle alone. They are already the favourites and could remain so until the end. FIFA announced last week, in the wake of its awarding of the 2030 World Cup to six countries on three continents, that the race for the 2034 edition concerned only AFC and OFC countries, i.e. Asia and Oceania. She also specified that the declarations of intent should arrive in Zurich no later than Tuesday 31 October 2023. Barring a huge surprise, no other Asian country is expected to apply. Australia, for its part, is said to be interested, but may not have enough time to take action before the end of the month. Saudi Arabia is also benefiting from another helping hand from FIFA: a change in the rules specifying that a candidate country now only needs four existing stadiums, instead of seven, when submitting its bid. This is no coincidence: the capital, Riyadh, already has the four required stadiums.