Saudi Arabia plot joint bid for 2030 World Cup... with Italy
Saudi Arabia are believed to be eyeing a possible bid for the 2030 World Cup with the newly crowned European champions
If the last few years have taught us anything about football, it's this: if the money is there, nothing - absolutely nothing - is off the table. Especially when it comes to hosting major football tournaments.
It doesn't matter if you're a tiny, desert-covered nation state with appalling human rights records and no previous interest in the sport. If you're propped up by extensive natural gas and oil reserves, FIFA will willingly turn a blind eye to thousands of people being worked to the grave in order to allow their tournament happen on your patch.
Nothing, then, should surprise us when it comes to the matter of the 2030 World Cup, and who might host it.
In fact, it might actually be the second of FIFA's flagship tournaments to be held by more than one country, following the 2026 edition being awarded to the US, Canada and Mexico.
The Athletic claim that Saudi Arabia is giving serious thought to making a bid to host the tournament along with - slightly confusingly - Italy.
The report claims American consultancy firm Boston Consultancy Group are thought to be advising the Middle Eastern nation on a potential bid to host the tournament, suggesting a joint bid might help them secure the rights.
Usually, joint bids for major tournaments are made by countries which share a border or are at least situated in close proximity to each other, hence why one option is for Saudi to hold the tournament in conjunction with Egypt and Morocco. This, though, would require the two African nations to make vast improvements to their current infrastructure. There are also question marks as to how well the tournament would do commercially.
For these reasons, Saudi are believed to be looking to Europe for a potential co-host, with several sources telling The Athletic that Italy are the most likely nation to be involved.
The reports adds that the two nations share close business and diplomatic ties. It also points out that Italy has invested little in its top class stadia since it hosted the World Cup in 1990, and the prospect of a cash injection from Saudi Arabia could help overhaul some of the grounds in time for the tournament.
If accurate, the Saudi-Italian offer will rival a joint bid from the British home nations and the Republic of Ireland, who are also believed to be planning to host the tournament.