Football Australia has not ruled out hosting the 2034 FIFA World Cup, but is expected to build additional stadiums to host the event or team up with at least two other countries.
- A combined bid by Australia and New Zealand for the 2034 World Cup would still not meet FIFA’s infrastructure requirements.
- The Asian Football Confederation has already given its support to Saudi Arabia’s candidacy.
- Football Australia has until October 31 to lodge a confirmation of interest in hosting the World Cup.
The demands of hosting a large-scale sporting tournament are so onerous that they almost exceed the capabilities of a single country, given the demand for high-capacity stadiums, hotels and training venues that can accommodate 48 teams.
Football Australia has until October 31 to lodge a confirmation of interest in hosting the World Cup.
This week, FIFA announced that the 2030 World Cup will be hosted by six nations, with the first three matches taking place in Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina before the rest of the tournament takes place in Spain, Portugal and Morocco .
The 2026 tournament will be hosted by Mexico, the United States and Canada and will bring together for the first time 48 teams playing a total of 104 matches.
The requirements for hosting the World Cup show how the World Cup has become a sporting behemoth.
FIFA has released documents stating that any candidate nation would need to have at least 14 “suitable” stadiums with a minimum capacity of 40,000 spectators for group matches.
In addition, bids must be able to provide stadiums that can accommodate 60,000 spectators for the semi-finals and 80,000 for the final.
“To facilitate a selection process, FIFA would encourage a proposal of more than 14 stadiums, but not more than 20 stadiums,” the Bid Process Overview document states.
Seven of these stadiums must already exist.
Australia co-hosted this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup with New Zealand, but requirements for the men’s event mean both countries do not currently have stadium capacity.
Australia has nine stadiums that can accommodate crowds of more than 40,000, including five ovals: the MCG and Docklands Stadium in Melbourne, Perth Stadium, Adelaide Oval and the SCG.
New Zealand has only one stadium that can accommodate more than 40,000 people: Eden Park in Auckland.
This means that if Australia were to lodge an offer with New Zealand, it would require at least one other country to join, such as Indonesia.
But the stadiums are only an obstacle.
FIFA documents state that host countries must also provide:
- A minimum of 72 suitable base camp training sites
- A minimum of 72 base camp hotels within a 20-minute drive of training sites
- Each hotel must be at least four stars with at least 80 rooms
- A minimum of four team hotels and four training venues per competition venue
- Two hotels and training sites for referee base camps
- One five-star hotel per host city for FIFA VIPs
Football Australia is yet to make a decision on a bid, with chief executive James Johnson releasing a statement on Thursday saying: “We note FIFA’s communication regarding the 2034 FIFA World Cup and are encouraged by the fact that after the huge success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023, the football family of Asia and Oceania will once again have the opportunity to demonstrate its ability to welcome the world and host the best FIFA tournaments.”
A Football Australia spokesperson added: “We are trying to understand the level of detail required in a short period of time.”
But Australia’s interest in hosting the World Cup could be a moot point given that the Asian Football Confederation, of which Australia is a member, has already thrown its support behind Saudi Arabia.
Asian Football Confederation president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa – who is also senior vice-president of the FIFA Council – said he was “delighted” that the Saudi Football Federation had announced its intention to bid.
“The entire Asian football family will be united in supporting this momentous initiative by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we are committed to working closely with the global football family to ensure its success,” he said. declared.
Saudi Arabia currently has two stadiums with a capacity of at least 40,000, but plans to build three more and redevelop four more in time to host the 2027 Asian Cup.
It is not yet clear whether Saudi Arabia will be able to build enough stadiums to host the entire World Cup or whether it will have to submit a joint bid with a neighboring country.
It is also unclear whether FIFA would accept the Saudi bid given that it does not have the existing seven stadiums with a minimum capacity of 40,000 spectators.
FIFA has been contacted for comment.