FIFA to allow Russia to play at Under-17 World Cup

FIFA to allow Russia to play at Under-17 World Cup
FIFA to allow Russia to play at Under-17 World Cup

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday its intention to bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup.
Led by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the bid for 2034 intends to deliver a world-class tournament and will draw inspiration from Saudi Arabia’s ongoing social and economic transformation and the Kingdom’s deep-rooted passion for football.

Saudi Arabia’s inaugural bid is backed by the Kingdom’s growing experience of hosting world-class football events and its ongoing plans to welcome fans across the world to the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup.

Reflecting on the intention to bid, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized that Saudi Arabia’s desire to bid for the 2034 FIFA World Cup is a reflection of the Kingdom’s progress in all sectors.

The Kingdom has quickly emerged as a leading hub and an international destination for hosting major events thanks to its rich cultural heritage, economic strength, and the ambition of its people.

Under the Saudi Vision 2030, sport is playing a significant role in contributing to the country’s economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for all and holds a unique ability to unite and bring different cultures together.

A renowned host for some of the biggest global sports events since 2018, Saudi Arabia has been home to over 50 international events for both male and female athletes including football, motorsports, tennis, equestrian, esports and golf.

Saudi Arabia has qualified for the iconic tournament on six occasions since 1994 — most recently in 2022 — when the Green Falcons secured a historic victory over eventual champions Argentina.

Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki said: “Hosting a FIFA World Cup in 2034 would help us achieve our dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation. As an emerging and welcoming home for all sports, we believe that hosting a FIFA World Cup is a natural next step in our football journey.

“Through its intention to bid to host the 2034 World Cup, the Kingdom is keen to provide an unprecedented experience for everyone around the world.

“The Kingdom’s recent success in hosting major international sporting events in various games and its triumph in winning rights to host many international tournaments during the next few years is the best testimony to the distinguished position that our country has reached, making it an ideal and distinguished location for organizing an exceptional edition of the World Cup,” Prince Abdulaziz said.

Yasser Al-Misehal, President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, stated: “We believe the time is right for Saudi Arabia to host the FIFA World Cup.

“Our bid is driven by a love for the game and a desire to see it grow in every corner of the world. We want to celebrate our football culture and share our country with the world.

“We are embracing Saudi Arabia’s enthusiasm for innovation and growth as we make our bid for this iconic tournament; the Kingdom’s transformation journey is the driving force behind our bid. We are committed to hosting an exceptional event that celebrates the game, captivates players and fans, and inspires future generations.

“To be in a position to bid to host a FIFA World Cup is only possible with the full support of the Kingdom’s leadership and we thank them for their continued committed to drive the country forward and open up new opportunities,” Al-Misehal added.

As the FIFA World Cup expands to a 48-team tournament from 2026 onwards, tournament logistics are front of mind for players, officials, and fans. Saudi Arabia will host all matches in the Kingdom, streamlining travel, optimizing match scheduling, and providing unique fan experiences across host venues and cities.

A young and vibrant nation with over 70 percent of its population under the age of 35, Saudi Arabia is also home to one of the strongest leagues in Asia, the Saudi Pro League. Welcoming and engaging fans from across the globe, the league is home to some of the best Saudi talent and international star players from over 45 different countries.

SAFF’s commitment to invest and grow the game at every level across the men’s and women’s game is highlighted by recent notable achievements including winning the men’s U-23 AFC Asian Cup, 160 percent increase in youth football investment, opening 18 youth regional training centers, increasing registered coaches from 750 in 2018 to over 5,500 today, and witnessing an increase of 56 percent and 86 percent in registered male and female players respectively since 2021.

Saudi Arabia’s ambition to grow the game and create new opportunities across the ecosystem is equaled in the women’s game. Since 2019, SAFF has successfully established a senior women’s and U-17 national teams, two professional women’s leagues featuring 38 clubs, and a school girls league which welcomed over 48,000 girls in its first week. In just 2 years, there has also been an 800 percent growth in the number of female coaches.

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