Saudi Arabia will be “ready” for all possibilities regarding the timing of hosting the 2034 FIFA World Cup, whether it is in the summer or winter, according to the President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, Yasser Al-Misehal, as reported Agence France-Presse.
Just hours after FIFA announced on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia had become the sole candidate to host the 2034 World Cup, only 27 days after the nomination process began, Al-Misehal stated: “Of course, we are prepared for all possibilities, and today there are many new technologies that assist in cooling or adding air conditioning to the stadiums.”
Al-Misehal, who is 49 years old, continued: “There are many cities in the Kingdom that have excellent weather in the summer, but we will be ready for all possibilities.”
Like most cities in Saudi Arabia, including the capital Riyadh, experience intense heat during the summer, with temperatures ranging between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius.
However, some cities in the kingdom have a moderate summer climate, such as Abha, Taif, and Al-Bahah, which hosted the Arab Club Championships Cup last summer.
But these three moderate cities lack stadiums with international standards and specifications, with capacities ranging from only 10,000 to 20,000 spectators, while the larger stadiums are in the provinces of Riyadh and Jeddah.
If Saudi Arabia is granted the opportunity to host the World Cup as expected, it will be the second time in the history of the Middle East, following Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 edition in December, after moving the finals to the autumn due to high temperatures in the Gulf during the summer, necessitating the rescheduling of major European tournaments.
Al-Misehal, who also serves as a member of the FIFA Council for Asia, affirmed: “The final official decision has not been issued yet, but the hosting will be 99 percent in favor of the Kingdom since the Saudi file is the only one that has submitted or expressed a desire to submit a bid to host the 2034 World Cup.”
FIFA explained in a statement: “As stipulated in the regulations approved by the FIFA Council, the International Federation will initiate the bidding process for hosting the 2030 and 2034 editions of the World Cup, as well as a thorough evaluation process of the bidding files, with the announcement of the host country/countries expected to be made during the FIFA Congress to be held in the fourth quarter of 2024.”
FIFA’s announcement came just hours after Australia withdrew from the competition to host on the final day of the specified deadline for announcing their intentions, leaving the field entirely to Saudi Arabia.
The President of the Saudi Football Federation points out that the Kingdom has passed the initial step, saying: “We have intensive work ahead of us to present a bid that befits the capabilities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the capabilities of the Arab world in general.”
He added: “The bid will be presented in July 2024, followed by the decision of the General Assembly, as announced by FIFA in the fourth quarter of the next year for approval and granting the Kingdom the right to host.”