The New York Times: Saudi Arabia is set to organize the 2030 World Cup, and the obstacles are more technical than political


London – “Al Quds Al Arabi”: The New York Times said that Saudi Arabia is studying the idea of ​​participating in competitions in order to win the World Cup matches in 2030, noting that efforts may face political and technical obstacles.

In a report prepared by Tariq Banga, he said that Saudi Arabia did not take anything off the table from trying to buy an English club in the Premier League, or an offer to obtain rights to broadcast international matches for millions of dollars, or even an attempt to bid to host the World Cup matches.

Banga said that Saudi Arabia, which is trying to spend money to get to the world football list, has put at the heart of these efforts trying to get the grand prize. In order to achieve this, it hired an American public relations company, the Boston Consulting Group, to provide advice and analysis on how to obtain the right to host the world championship, which is held every four years, which is the largest event in the sports calendar, and eight years after Qatar obtained the right to receive matches. As the first country in the Middle East.

The newspaper adds that a number of consulting and public relations firms have been asked to help in the project, citing consultants who study the feasibility of the Saudi bid, but they admit that the bid needs “thinking outside the box”, including holding international matches in partnership with a European partner.

Despite the influence of Saudi Arabia in the field of football, giving in its current form remains a distant goal

Despite Saudi Arabia’s influence in the field of football, giving in its current form remains a distant goal. A spokesperson for the US public relations firm declined to comment.

The newspaper says that sport has increasingly become an essential component of Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy away from oil. However, in recent years, it has made efforts behind the scenes to become a major power in the world of football, like its neighbor Qatar. The strategy achieved success and failure, as Saudi Arabia persuaded the Italian and Spanish leagues to sign lucrative financial contracts and bring the final matches of the league in the two countries to Saudi Arabia. But it failed in the efforts led by the Saudi sovereign fund to buy one of the English Premier League clubs and obtain the rights to broadcast the Champions League matches.

Whatever the results, the ambition still remains because Saudi Arabia is determined to be in the ring and all the important sporting matches, and at the heart of these efforts is the attempt to succeed in obtaining the right to host the World Cup matches.

The writer says that human rights organizations remained the first opponent in organizing international sports matches and events in Saudi Arabia because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the human rights file. But the main problem facing Saudi Arabia remains technical. In order to allow Saudi Arabia to organize matches after Qatar, which is the first Middle Eastern country to organize in the winter of 2022, FIFA, the organization that organizes matches, must change the appropriate rotation policy in order to bring it back to the region.

Among the options currently being discussed is Saudi Arabia joining a European country that hopes to host the World Cup. So far, Britain, and in partnership with Spain and Portugal, whose football federations have established good relations with Saudi Arabia, have expressed their desire to submit a bid to receive the World Cup. Italy, with which Saudi Arabia has established sports relations, is considering a bid to host the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Cooperation between the continents requires FIFA to change its policy, which is based on organizing matches in one continent and has never organized them on two continents, although the 2002 World Cup matches were held in cooperation with Japan and South Korea, but they are two countries on one continent. The World Cup matches in 2026 will be the first time that the event will be held in three countries, namely the United States, Mexico and Canada, and then the number of participating teams will be 48 teams, not 32.

There is another issue related to the weather. In order for the Saudi bid to organize matches to succeed, it must convince FIFA to change the traditional June-July match date to November-December to avoid the Gulf heat, which is what FIFA did to hold matches safe, upending the global sporting agenda. European football federations are not expected to agree to change the date again. But Saudi Arabia’s hopes got a boost from its relationship with FIFA director Gianni Infantino, who was criticized by human rights organizations when he appeared in a promotional video for the Saudi Ministry of Sports.

In January, Infantino held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is behind Vision 2030, and FIFA agreed last month to study a proposal submitted by the Saudi Football Association on holding matches every two years instead of four years, which would allow a greater number of players. Countries submit offers to receive matches.

The head of the Saudi Football Association, Yasser Al-Mishal, said: “It is time to review how the international tournament is held and think about what is best for the future of the sport,” and “it should include looking at whether the tournament every four years is the optimal basis for managing football from a commercial and competitive perspective.” The Saudi Football Association refused to comment on plans to bid for the World Cup, but pointed out that Saudi Arabia has become the destination for international matches. In recent years, it has organized boxing matches, car racing and golf.

Saudi Arabia also needs to build bridges with the global football economy, which has suffered from television piracy of broadcast television content that has been repackaged and sold in Saudi Arabia. Neither the English Premier League nor the Spanish League were allowed to file lawsuits in Saudi Arabia protesting the piracy. The channel that stole the content was BQ Out in the midst of the regional crisis and the blockade of Qatar, in which beIN Sports obtained the rights to broadcast international matches for viewers in the Middle East. While the blockade has ended, beIN Sports is still banned in Saudi Arabia. This means that Saudis who follow football are looking for illegal ways to watch matches in the Champions League and the parallel league in South America.

On Wednesday, the authority that oversees European football rejected an offer from Saudi Arabia of 600 million dollars in exchange for the right to broadcast Champions League matches in the Middle East, and preferred the continuation of the current contract with Qatar’s beIN Sports.


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