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Saudi Arabia "buys" the World Cup: How the sheiks managed to pull it off

FIFA reconfirms its status as the most corrupt organization in the world.

On October 31, the application deadline to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup ended. As fate would have it, only Saudi Arabia was prepared to host the planet's premier sporting event for the next four years. A mere coincidence? Not at all.

In early October, FIFA made an unusual decision regarding the fate of the 2030 World Cup. The tournament was awarded to six countries: Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Only the opening matches will occur in South America, while the main action will unfold in Europe and Africa.

Thanks to this decision, the pool of candidates for the next World Cup has been significantly narrowed. This is due to the continental rotation system, which we will explain shortly. Since 2002, FIFA has held each subsequent World Cup in a different region that has yet to host the event in a long time. For example, the 2022 World Cup took place in Asia, the 2026 World Cup was awarded to North America (USA, Canada, and Mexico), and the 2030 World Cup will be held in Europe, Africa, and South America. Under this system, the 2034 World Cup must be hosted in Asia or Oceania, with no other options.

As you can imagine, few countries on these continents can afford to host such a prestigious event. Around 20 countries were theoretically considered for this opportunity, but only two bids had realistic chances, aside from the Saudis.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were willing to join forces to host the tournament. There were rumors that these countries sought advice from Russia, which successfully hosted the World Cup 2018. However, after weighing the pros and cons, they concluded that the event would need to be more financially draining.

The last contenders for the sheiks were Australia and New Zealand. After the successful 2023 Women's World Cup, these countries were determined to compete in the men's tournament as well. But at the last moment, the Australians withdrew from the race, allegedly due to a lack of time to build the infrastructure for a 48-team tournament.

Here's what's interesting, though. Look at the list of sponsors for major competitions held in Australia. We find the company Fly Emirates, a significant portion of which is owned by Saudi sheiks. Coincidence? We don't deny it, but it gives us reason to ponder.

Finally, let's talk about why FIFA is doing all of this. The answer is simple and transparent: money. Saudi Arabia is the wealthiest and most promising contender for the tournament, so FIFA wants to be friends with them. It's also worth noting that FIFA President Gianni Infantino is often seen at official events sitting next to the country's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. One can recall the openings of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The goal of the international federation is money. The organization has already announced its plans to increase revenue. TV rights are expected to jump by a billion in the next 10 years (from 3 to 4 billion), with the primary leap coming from ticket sales (from 500 million to 3 billion). Initially, FIFA will be aided by massive American stadiums and increased tournament participants from 32 to 48 teams. Then, the sheiks will extend their friendly hands with crisp banknotes.

Published by Patrick Jane