Football Australia FA, has officially pulled out of the race to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup.
FA confirmed its decision hours before Fifa’s deadline for declarations of interest on Tuesday.
Despite hosting a successful and record-breaking 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, FA said it was shifting its focus to other tournaments.
In a statement, Football Australia said “we have explored the opportunity to bid to host the FIFA World Cup and having taken all factors into consideration, we have reached the conclusion not to do so for the 2034 competition.”
“We believe we are in a strong position to host the oldest women’s international competition in the world, the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026, and then welcome the greatest teams in world football for the 2029 FIFA Club World Cup.
“Achieving this, following the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 and with the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games, would represent a truly golden decade for Australian football.”
“We wish FIFA and the eventual hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2034 the greatest success for the good of the game and for everyone who loves our sport,” the statement said.
Saudi Arabia is the only other nation to bid; and with Australia out of the race, Saudi Arabia is likely to host the 2034 tournament.
The 2026 World Cup has been scheduled to take place in the US, Mexico and Canada.
Morocco, Portugal and Spain will host the 2030 tournament, with matches also in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Fifa had said the 2034 World Cup would be held in Asia or Oceania, and an Australian bid was viewed as the only potential challenger to Saudi Arabia, which announced its intention to bid shortly after Fifa’s decision.
It would be recalled that the last time FA bid to host a men’s World Cup, in 2022, they only received one vote.
The tournament was held in Qatar instead.
Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup attracted criticism because of the country’s position on same-sex relationships, its human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers.
Saudi Arabia, though has hosted several major sporting events since 2018, involving football, Formula 1, golf and boxing, has also had it’s fair share of criticism for its human rights violations.
More prominent were cases of 81 men who were executed in one day last year – women’s rights abuses, the criminalisation of homosexuality, the restriction of free speech and the war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s international standing was also severely damaged by the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a US-based Saudi journalist who was a prominent critic of the government.
Human rights campaigners have been quoted as saying that “sport is being used by the Saudi government to detract from long-standing reputation issues, a process known as ‘sportswashing'”.