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Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt to Withdraw Joint World Cup Bid

A trilateral joint bid to host the World Cup by Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt appears to have fallen through. Credit: Hayden Schiff / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

On Wednesday, representatives of Greece and Saudi Arabia reached a decision that they would not be going ahead with their joint bid together with Egypt to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

When news broke in February that Greece had reached a deal with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to enter a bid to jointly host the World Cup, Athens was criticized by some for banding together with governments accused of human rights abuses.

Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt were not the only states to consider joint bids for hosting football’s most prestigious tournament. Other nations from Europe and South America have also formed coalitions to persuade FIFA that they should jointly host the World Cup in seven years’ time.

Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt’s joint World Cup bid

News first emerged that Athens, Riyadh, and Cairo would launch a joint bid for the World Cup earlier this year.

Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS), the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, privately promised Greece that his country would pay to construct all the necessary football stadiums if Greece joined Saudi Arabia and Egypt in a joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

In return for funding, Saudi Arabia would host 75 percent of matches during the tournament.

The proposal was reportedly discussed in a private conversation between the Saudi Crown Prince and Kyriakos Mitstotakis in the summer of 2022. The proposed funding for stadiums and other associated costs would likely have been in the billions.

Greece quickly faced criticism for banding together with Saudia Arabia and Egypt for the World Cup bid. Critics argued that the deal would show a disregard for human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and Egypt by Greece.

When the planned joint bid first became public knowledge, Ali Walker, writing for POLITICO predicted that the report would “fuel criticism that Saudi Arabia is effectively attempting to use its astronomical wealth to buy the World Cup by creating a trans-continental coalition to cleverly take advantage of the voting system.”

In any case, plans for a trilateral World Cup bid launched by Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt now appear to have been abandoned.

The remaining bids

With at least one of the joint bids now likely out of the running, the question remains, who will host the World Cup in 2030, exactly 100 years after the first tournament was held in 1930 in Uruguay?

Although FIFA is yet to choose a host nation – or indeed, host nations – there is a growing buzz surrounding some of the other confirmed and rumored joint bids.

The countries of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay have united to present a joint quadrilateral bid to host the World Cup in South America.

Following their announcement in October 2020, Spain and Portugal have submitted their joint bid, known as the ‘Iberian Bid,’ to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup. This marks the second time the two nations have teamed up for a World Cup bid, as their previous attempts for hosting in 2018 or 2022 were unsuccessful. Additionally, in early October 2022, Ukraine joined their bid, with the intention of hosting one group during the tournament.

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