Saudi Arabia wants to host the next FIFA men's and women's World Cup
The GIST: Saudi Arabia wants the FIFA World Cup — and not just the 2034 men’s version, but also the 2035 FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC). This interest further cements the country’s recent and rapid expansion into women’s soccer, which has been met with mixed success at the FIFA level.
The details: The news comes from Saudi women’s national team director Monika Staab, who initiated discussions about the bid partly because of prior men’s tournament bidding success, and also because the women’s side will be competition-ready by then. The country has never hosted a major women’s soccer tournament, but now it’s go big and go home.
- While no country has hosted back-to-back World Cups, Saudi Arabia hopes to host consecutive tourneys twice: it’s a frontrunner for the 2026 Women’s AFC Asian Cup, which kicks off a year before the country hosts its first-ever men’s AFC Asian Cup in 2027. Looking for that prestige worldwide.
The response: Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was quick to voice a primary concern: Saudi Arabia continues to criminalize LGBTQ+ individuals, threatening jail, flogging, and even death. While the country claims to welcome LGBTQ+ visitors, the record 87 LGBTQ+ athletes who competed in the 2023 WWC might feel otherwise.
- The soccer world’s wariness toward Saudi Arabia’s intolerance was embodied by FIFA’s acceptance — and quick reversal — of a Visit Saudi campaign during this summer’s WWC. An own goal.
Zooming out: Saudi continues to fetch international support via bankrolling — it’s already the favorite for the aforementioned men’s World Cup, even amid sportswashing controversies. And if women’s soccer players and sponsors are drawn to the money, it wouldn’t be surprising if FIFA followed suit for WWC 2035.