Riyadh is reported to be planning a tripartite bid to host football’s Fifa World Cup in 2030, along with Egypt and Greece.
Saudi Arabia is preparing to announce the joint bid, according to a report in The Times.
If the bid is successful, it would mean the tournament would be played in the winter to avoid the summer heat. The report added that Saudi Arabia would be the lead partner and pay for or at least contribute to the infrastructure costs in the other two countries.
The prospect of the Middle East hosting the World Cup in 2030 comes as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 edition of the tournament, which begins in November.
Hosting a World Cup requires a significant investment in infrastructure. According to regional projects tracker MEED Projects, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has spent $5.3bn on contracts for facilities directly related to the tournament. There have also been other infrastructure projects that have been completed ahead of the event, such as the first lines of the Doha Metro.
Riyadh has many plans for hosting sporting events. It recently expressed interest in hosting the Olympic Games.
“We’re open to discuss with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about this [Olympics] for the future. I think Saudi Arabia has showcased that we can host such events,” said Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal in an interview with AFP in August.
“Definitely, the Olympics would be an ultimate goal for us ... But we’re open to that and I think we can,” the minister added.
Riyadh has already been selected to host the 22nd edition of the Asian Games in 2034.
The kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) acquired Premier League club Newcastle last year. It has backed the LIV Golf breakaway tour, and is supporting motorsport events in the country, including Formula 1’s Saudi Grand Prix.
There has also been a series of high-profile boxing matches in the kingdom, including the fight between Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk and the UK’s Anthony Joshua in August this year.
Egypt has also expressed Olympic ambitions. Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi revealed Cairo’s plans to submit a formal application to the IOC in an interview with Sky News Arabia in January this year.
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