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Not everybody had nice things to say about last year's World Cup in Qatar. Saudi Arabia wants to do a better job, planning to host the FIFA World Cup 2034, amid stricter guidelines on human rights and sustainability.

Saudi Arabia will put in its bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup. To win it, the kingdom must meet new hosting requirements, including a stellar track record in human rights and a commitment to sustainability.

“Led by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), the bid for 2034 intends to deliver a world-class tournament and will draw inspiration from Saudi Arabia’s ongoing social and economic transformation and the country’s deep-rooted passion for football,” Saudi FA said in a statement.

The country will have to put in its bid by the end of November, over a decade ahead of the event.

Following last year’s World Cup in Qatar – the subject of various claims of human rights violations – FIFA has new regulations for any country wanting to host.

Rules stipulate: “The FIFA World Cup must be organized following sustainable event management principles and respecting internationally recognized human rights. FIFA is fully committed to conducting its activities in connection with bidding for and hosting of the Competitions in accordance with sustainable event management standards and practices (in line with ISO 20121), safeguarding principles for the protection of children and adults at risk and respecting internationally recognized human rights in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

“FIFA also requires human rights and labor standards to be implemented by the bidding member associations, the government(s) and other entities involved in the organisation of the Competitions, such as those responsible for the construction and renovation of stadiums, training sites, hotels and airports.”

A flourishing sports economy is a principal focus of the kingdom’s ruler Mohammed bin Salman. The country’s tactics of paying high-profile sports figures to work in the kingdom have been labeled as “sports washing” by many, a term MBS has no problem with. 

In a recent interview with Fox News, MBS said: “When you diversify an economy, you have to work in all sectors: Mining, infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, all the list, and you need tourism. If you want to have tourism, you need to develop your culture sector, entertainment and sports. You need to create a calendar.”

“If sports washing is going to increase our GDP, then we’ll continue doing sports washing. I don’t care. I have 1% GDP growth from sports, and I want another 1.5%, call it whatever you want, but we’re going to get that percentage.”

Saudi Arabia announced its plans to bid moments after Morocco, Portugal and Spain said they would host the FIFA World Cup 2030


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Tags: saudi arabia, sports tourism, world cup

Photo credit: King Abdullah Stadium. Supplied

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