The hosting rights for the 2030 FIFA World Cup have landed in a state of limbo following reports stating that Saudi Arabia has withdrawn its candidacy to co-host the event. The Gulf Nation had previously signaled their intentions of co-hosting the event, alongside partner nations in Egypt and Greece. Their bid faced stiff competition from the likes of Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, Morocco, and a number of South American nations.
🚨💣 Saudi Arabia have WITHDRAWN their candidacy for the 2030 World Cup! 🇸🇦
They consider it impossible to compete against the bid of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. 🇪🇸🇵🇹🇲🇦
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) June 22, 2023
Saudi’s decision to drop out has reportedly been influenced by the other candidates, as they supposedly consider it ‘impossible’ to compete against the European bidders. Additionally, reports have also suggested that the nation considers the World Cup to be ‘football’s prime international competition’, and believes that it belongs in Europe.
It is rumored that Saudi Arabia threw their hat in the ring after witnessing Qatar successfully organize the 2022 World Cup. In their efforts to rope in partners, the Crown Prince of Saudi reportedly promised to invest in the development of stadiums in Greece. However, a majority of the event would’ve still taken place in the Gulf Nation.
As per reports, Saudi’s recent investments in Soccer were attempts to reinforce their bid. The nation has handed mega-money contracts to renowned European stars, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, N’golo Kante, and Kalidou Koulibaly. There were also attempts to acquire the signature of Lionel Messi earlier this month, but these efforts ultimately went in vain.
Nevertheless, their recruitment strategy was viewed as a power play to strengthen their World Cup bid. But evidently, their plans appear to have changed.
What? I thought they were signing all these players like CR7 and Benz to promote their bid for the World Cup? Very surprising news https://t.co/VLN0uKfxmn
— Ball Talk (@Ba11Talk) June 23, 2023
So the reason they’ve withdrawn is because they don’t think it’s possible to compete with the other bids.
The fact that FIFA rules mean that an Asian country can’t host it in 2030 aren’t important though? https://t.co/9JZykNW8e7
— Joshua Hirst (@JoshuaHirst13) June 23, 2023
Why have they cooked the books for Ronaldo, Benzema and Ziyech then? https://t.co/iCqXRvjHmT
— Daniel Kretinsky – Official Account (@DanielKretinsky) June 23, 2023
— . (@notthefirstac) June 23, 2023
Its high time football is brought back to Europe man😭 https://t.co/V3PgkK0fDp
— Ashm Sharma (@SharmaAshm) June 23, 2023
No one in the world is competing with a Spain/Portugal/Morocco link up https://t.co/26I72zbt9n
— Papé (@the8baller) June 23, 2023
Fans online reacted to the news by expressing their surprise at Saudi’s change of heart. Besides this, there was also a degree of elation at the prospect of the World Cup returning to Europe.
Spain, Portugal, and Ukraine in pole position to secure World Cup bid
Following Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal, the ‘Iberian bid’, which is a joint effort from Spain, Portugal, and Ukraine, is said to be the frontrunner for the hosting rights. However, they are set to face stern competition from a host of South American nations, including Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay. Morocco is also expected to file its candidacy.
In terms of infrastructure, the European nations have a slight edge. But their bid might just fall victim to prestige, as the 2030 World Cup will mark a century since the beginning of the competition. The very first World Cup was held in 1930, with Uruguay playing the hosts. Naturally, the sense of occasion will favor South America’s bid.