2030 & 2034: It’s the end of the World Cup as we know it

FIFA continues its cycle of destruction against the greatest tournament on earth.  

FIFA has encouraged two rival bids for the 2030 and 2034 World Cups, South America (Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina) and Europe & Africa (Spain, Portugal and Morocco), to combine into one bid for 2030. In doing so, FIFA narrowed down the confederations eligible to bid for 2034 to countries from Asia and Oceania only. This leaves just one country within these regions with expressed public interest in hosting the 2034 edition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

The 2030 format announced on 4 October 2023 will be horrendous for supporters, disregards the environment, and rolls out the red carpet to a host for 2034 with an appalling human rights record. End to end, the 2030 tournament will cover six countries, six time zones apart and could feature round trips of over 20,000km. All to allow Saudi Arabia to bid for 2034 uncontested. FIFA has since reportedly given Australia (and any other interested parties) a meagre 25 days to compile a rival bid. 

The announced plan for 2030 shows no consideration for match-going supporters The costs for fans will be astronomical should their team be drawn to play in South America for one game, only to then set course for Europe and/or North Africa for the remainder of the tournament.  

FIFA totally neglects the impact the proposal will have on the planet and its own commitments to environmental sustainability. The unnecessary air travel that teams, national associations, journalists, tournament staff and supporters will be forced to take will significantly impact the tournament’s carbon footprint.  

It’s not a “celebration of the beautiful game” as FIFA claims, it’s a slap in the face of match-going fans and a mockery of its own sustainability strategy.  

FIFA also demonstrates it has no interest in learning from Qatar or holding bids to human rights criteria by giving Saudi Arabia an uncontested platform for 2034. Back in February 2023, Human Rights Watch wrote to FIFA asking for information about the due diligence on human rights ahead of awarding hosting rights for major tournaments, for which they received no response. 

If the World Cup has grown so cumbersome in its competition design that FIFA’s only choice is between Saudi Arabia and spreading it across six nations, then the model needs to be reconsidered, because it is clearly not fit for purpose. 

FIFA is chasing the illusion of a forever growth: more teams, more games, more countries, more World Cups. Hidden behind opaque bidding processes, FIFA is turning every World Cup into a dystopia, and football and supporters will directly suffer because of it. 

It’s the end of the World Cup as we know it. 

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