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Report: Saudi Arabia pushing to host 75% of games in 2030 World Cup joint bid

Gulf state ready to fully underwrite costs of hosting alongside Greece and Egypt.

9 February 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • Saudi Arabia has offered to pay for new sports stadiums in Greece and Egypt
  • Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay joint bid also in contention for 2030 World Cup
  • Spain and Portugal proposal has been deemed favourite by Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin

Saudi Arabia plans to pay for new sports stadiums in Greece and Egypt and intends to stage three-quarters of all fixtures if it wins hosting duties for the 2030 Fifa World Cup, according to Politico.

The Times initially reported last September that the Gulf state was set to make a play for soccer’s showpiece tournament and would lead a joint bid alongside Egypt and Greece. The tri-continental proposal could also mean another World Cup played in the European winter, following in the footsteps of Qatar 2022.

Politico reports that Saudi Arabia is prepared to ‘fully underwrite the costs’ of hosting for its two Mediterranean partners on the proviso that 75 per cent of the 48-team tournament would be held in the Gulf state. 

The addition of Greece and Egypt would mean games played across three continents and gives the bid a geographical balance that may counter opposition to a second Middle East-only World Cup in eight years.

The Saudi-led proposal will face competition from South America after Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay officially submitted their joint bid earlier this week. They will compete with a joint bid from Spain and Portugal, as well as potentially one from Morocco.

The decision on who will host the 2030 World Cup will be decided through a public vote of the entire Fifa Congress, made up of more than 200 member associations, in 2024.

SportsPro says…

Spain and Portugal’s bid has been considered the favourite to land 2030 World Cup hosting duties, with Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin saying last September he was certain the two countries would come out on top. Saudi Arabia’s proposal, though, cannot be dismissed.

Asian nations may rally behind Saudi Arabia, as could African countries attracted by the oil-rich state’s investment into Egypt. Greece also has the potential to pull in votes from Europe.

Saudi Arabia has had designs on staging the Olympic Games but with the earliest opportunity for that not being until 2036, the World Cup has been identified as the soonest opportunity for the country to make its sporting mark on a global scale.

However, questions remain over Saudi Arabia’s hosting suitability as it continues to be accused of human rights abuses and sportswashing. The country’s wish to secure the World Cup extends far beyond enhancing its reputation as a sports event hotspot. Critics will cite the multibillion dollar offer to Greece and Egypt as the latest attempt from Saudi Arabia to force through a politicised agenda.

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