Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing itself to host the FIFA World Cup in 2030 in a trilateral bid with Egypt and Greece. Meanwhile, human rights activists are already warning against the move.
Several news channels, including the Time, reported this Friday that Saudi Arabia is in talks with sports chiefs in Egypt and Greece to jointly host the 2030 football World Cup. In a statement this Friday evening, Mohammed Fawzi, spokesman for the Egyptian Sports Ministry, said that “the three countries are working flat out and the application to organize the tournament is being studied,” adding also that his country “has so far hosted many world championships in the past three years and is well qualified to stage football’s premier tournament like the World Cup.”
A source at Greece’s Hellenic Football Federation in Athens also confirmed the news and said the three countries are in the process of holding discussions about a joint bid. But hosting the most important sport event in the world is not going to be an easy task because the bid has already faced competition from at least two other joint proposals.
First, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay have announced their interest to host the event in early August. Second, Spain and Portugal have also announced their joint candidacy for the World Cup last year.
In the end, it is FIFA, the international governing body of football, that will select a host for the 2030 tournament in 2024. If the three countries can win the competition, the tournament would take place in the winter of 2030 so as to avoid the extreme summer heat in the Kingdom, just like this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar that is supposed to be held in November and December for the same reason.
Human rights issues may disqualify Saudi Arabia for hosting the World Cup
Hosting major international sporting events, including European club football and boxing world title bouts, is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development strategy, especially from a touristic point of view. But there is one big obstacle in the way for the Kingdom, and it is the human rights violations in this country.
In this regard, Amnesty International issues a statement this Friday and warned FIFA not to even consider Saudi Arabia as a candidate; “Staging the 2030 men’s World Cup in Saudi Arabia would be virtually impossible if FIFA correctly applies its human rights criteria to any bid it makes,” the Amnesty International said in the statement.
The statement also referred to FIFA’s mistakes in the past and said the association must avoid the “mistake” made in 2010 in awarding the 2018 and 2022 finals to Russia and Qatar respectively because both these countries have a dark human rights record.
“If Saudi Arabia becomes an official bidder for the 2030 World Cup, FIFA will repeat mistakes it made with Qatar and Russia. But it must ensure there’s a rigorous assessment of human rights risks in awarding the tournament to Riyadh.” Felix Jakens, Amnesty UK’s individuals said in a statement, adding that “Under Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi sports washing has gone into overdrive at the very time that human rights have deteriorated alarmingly.” Neither FIFA nor Saudi Arabia have so far made any official comment in this regard.