— Published 24 May 2023

Saudi Arabia hesitates between two dates

Will Saudi Arabia bid for the World Cup? The president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Salmane ben Ibrahim al-Khalifa (pictured above), has no doubt. He even speaks of it as a virtual certainty. But for the Bahraini leader, it is now time to find the best opportunity to win the bid. Speaking earlier this week in Beirut, Lebanon, Salmane bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa explained: “Saudi Arabia is coming in with a vengeance and we are in the process of coordinating with the other confederations and with FIFA to host the World Cup in 2030 or 2034. The idea is that once the file is submitted, we are at least 90% confident. I think Saudi Arabia is a country capable of hosting such a tournament, but we have to choose the right time, 2030 or 2034. If the chances of success are better for 2034, we will look at that. But if the conditions are better in 2030, then why not. But the issue is not just about the Asian Confederation. Yes, we have 47 votes, but we need more than 110 to get the World Cup. We need support from other continents.” For the 2030 World Cup, where the battle is likely to be between the South American quartet of Argentina/Chile/Paraguay/Uruguay and the trio of Spain, Portugal and Morocco, a joint bid between Saudi Arabia, Greece and Egypt has been mooted. But it was never made official. As a reminder, Saudi Arabia has obtained the organisation of two future editions of the Asian Games, in 2029 for the winter version, then in 2034 for the summer.