The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is making unremitting efforts to secure the right to host the most prominent event in the world of football: the 2030 World Cup, but it faces political and other technical obstacles, according to a report published by the newspaper “The New York TimesAmerica, Thursday.
The newspaper points out that Saudi Arabia, in order to make these endeavors successful, used the Boston Consulting Group to help it win the organization of the largest football competition.
The newspaper quoted one of the consultants, who is examining the feasibility of the Saudi bid, saying that several other Western consultants were asked to help with the project.
He added that everyone agreed that this step requires “thinking outside the box”, including, for example, an agreement to share hosting rights with a European country.
The New York Times noted, “Despite the growing influence of Saudi Arabia in the world of football, the show in its current form has little chance of success.
A Boston Consulting Group spokesman declined to comment to the newspaper.
The New York Times believes that Saudi Arabia has recently begun to make a concerted effort behind the scenes to follow the example of its regional rival Qatar in becoming a major power in the field of football.
These efforts come within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030 aimed at reducing dependence on oil, as the newspaper confirms that this strategy has achieved mixed success so far.
And the Gulf kingdom managed to lure tournament organizers in Italy and Spain to sign lucrative contracts in order to hold the local cup finals in Saudi Arabia.
On the other hand, efforts backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund failed to acquire a Premier League club, as well as to obtain the rights to broadcast the Champions League.
Human rights groups have long been vocal in their opposition to organizing major sporting events in Saudi Arabia, especially since the kingdom was accused of complicity in the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
However, the newspaper says, the biggest difficulty related to Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the World Cup is due to technical reasons.
Given that Qatar will host the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East next year, any Saudi bid will require FIFA to change the continental rotation policy adopted if it agrees to hold the tournament in Saudi Arabia.
According to the American newspaper, one of the options under study is to provide a joint hosting file with European countries planning to organize the World Cup.
So far, Britain and a partnership between Portugal and Spain have announced their intention to submit a bid for hosting, and Italy is also studying efforts to win the honor of holding the World Cup on its soil for the first time since 1990.
But even if Saudi Arabia succeeds in persuading one of these countries, this will require FIFA to change its policy, as it has not previously organized the tournament on two different continents.
In order for Saudi Arabia to succeed in holding the tournament on its soil, it must also convince the organizers once again to change the dates of the tournament, which is usually held in the summer, and hold it in the winter, as happened with Qatar, which may face strong opposition from Europe this time.
The newspaper confirms that Saudi Arabia’s hopes of hosting the event were boosted as a result of its close ties to FIFA and its president Gianni Infantino, as well as after the recent approval of the FIFA General Assembly on a Saudi proposal to hold the tournament every two years.
A spokesman for the Saudi Football Association declined to comment on his country’s bid to host the World Cup, but noted that the kingdom was quickly becoming a destination for high-profile sporting events.
In recent years, major boxing matches, car races and golf events have been held in the Kingdom.