Liz Klavinis has warned that a request for a toilet from Saudi Arabia could put the global football project at risk. Now the football boss’s nightmare has suddenly become closer.
Less than a year after Qatar’s money-laundering sports tournament was halted, there is reason to brace for new blows in international football politics. Now it is no longer hypothetical that Saudi Arabia will find itself bidding to host the FIFA World Cup at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The topic is real, current and relevant Quickly on the agenda Already now.
It is no coincidence that Saudi Arabia chose to announce its interest as organizer of the World Cup in 2034 at the same time as it became known what FIFA had chosen four years earlier.
Like so many other things in Gianni Infantino’s world of power, there is a lot that goes into it. Suddenly, the possibility of Saudi Arabia hosting the World Cup in eleven years became much greater.
This is due to the connection between what will happen in 2030 and its implications for assumptions about 2034.
FIFA chose to celebrate the centenary of the FIFA World Cup by spreading the tournament across three continents. Thus we get six host countries: Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Although the main weight of the 2030 World Cup lies with the top three countries, there is something clearly symbolic about holding the opening matches in South America. Hence, confederations around the world may be satisfied, which is important for Infantino’s power base, with the consequent narrowing of the pool of relevant people in 2034.
This is because FIFA wants all six continental football confederations They will have the opportunity to compete to host the FIFA World Cup in an eight-year cycle. Since North America is hosting the World Cup in 2026, and Europe, South America and Africa are out of the discussion now that they have the World Cup in 2030, it is Asia and Oceania that are vying for the World Cup in 2034.
Saudi Arabia says it has received support from the Asian Football Confederation. Therefore, it is effectively between them and Australia, if they choose to apply.
On social media, discussions are mounting that this increases the likelihood of this happening for Saudi Arabia, and it has been suggested that the desert state was a… “Shaft in the reeds”.
It is difficult to say how actively Saudi Arabia will play the power game, but there is no doubt that the solution now on the table suits the sheikhs perfectly.
Competition from Australia has been announced, but that is unlikely to scare the Saudi champions.
If FIFA ends up taking such a controversial path in the world’s most prestigious tournament, it will make Infantino’s already tense relationship with many European countries even more difficult.
This was the scenario that Lise Klavinis warned against, when she met VG in Strasbourg shortly before the WC.
The head of the Norwegian Football Association said: “Europe cannot manage the request to host the World Cup in Saudi Arabia now.”
Since then, we have witnessed a massive influx of players into the Saudi League, which attracts unreal sums of money. The question now is whether this is actually part of a larger plan. In this case, it is about the gradual normalization and consolidation of Saudi Arabia as a major football power, which will eventually lead to the World Cup being seen as normal under a regime that does not respect human rights.
The thought is both depressing and frightening, but for now, the scent of a World Cup in Saudi Arabia is far away.
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