Search icon


31st Oct 2023

Human rights campaingers blast decision to award 2034 World Cup to Saudi Arabia

Callum Boyle

2034 World Cup

‘FIFA has failed to learn the lesson’

Human rights campaigners have called out FIFA as they look set to award the 2034 World Cup to Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf State were confirmed as the sole bidder for the tournament after Australia pulled out of the bidding process.

As a result, the Human Rights watch group have condemned the world football governing body, stating that they had broken their own policy and claimed that awarding Saudi Arabia the World Cup “despite its appalling human rights record . . . exposes Fifa’s commitments to human rights as a sham”.

FIFA announced on October 4 that the bidding process for the 2034 World Cup would take place during the 2030 World Cup but only gave prospective bidders until October 31 to register their interest.

They added that only countries from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Oceania could bid for 2034.

Just minutes after the announcement, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman confirmed that the Kingdom would bid to host the tournament.

2034 World Cup

2034 will be a 48-team competition and will require mostly new or redeveloped stadiums. Additionally, it is likely the tournament would have to be played in winter due to the similar issues faced with Qatar.

Fans would also face tighter restrictions on alcohol in the country.

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch hit out at FIFA’s decision.

He told The Times: “Barely a year after the human rights catastrophes of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Fifa has failed to learn the lesson that awarding multi-billion dollar events without due diligence and transparency can risk corruption and major human rights abuses.

“The possibility that Fifa could award Saudi Arabia the 2034 World Cup despite its appalling human rights record and closed door to any monitoring exposes Fifa’s commitments to human rights as a sham.

“Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record has deteriorated under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s rule, including mass executions, continued repression of women’s rights under its male guardianship system, and the killing of hundreds of migrants at the Saudi-Yemen border.”

Worden revealed that critics of the Saudi regime could face punishment and imprisonment. Like Qatar, same-sex relationships are illegal and can carry the death sentence.

Related links: