14 February 2023

Saudi Arabia chosen to host Club World Cup in December

14 February 2023

Saudi Arabia has been chosen to host the Club World Cup in December.

The FIFA Council, made up of representatives from all the continental confederations, unanimously selected the Middle East state as hosts for the seven-team event, which is scheduled to run from December 12 to 22.

The country has also been reported to be bidding to co-host the 2030 men’s World Cup with Egypt and Greece, alongside rival confirmed bids from Spain, Portugal and Ukraine and one from four South American nations.

The Council confirmed the FIFA Congress would make a decision on who would host those finals in the third quarter of next year.

Amnesty International UK head of priority campaigns and individuals at risk Felix Jakens said: “Saudi Arabia’s seemingly insatiable appetite for hosting major sporting competitions as part of a major sportswashing drive is well known, but that doesn’t mean FIFA should uncritically facilitate this.

“FIFA has a clear duty to ensure that its events neither involve human rights violations nor allow them to be sidelined, and in awarding the Club World Cup to Saudi Arabia FIFA should be insisting on minimum human rights standards from the host country.

“Under a draconian crackdown led by Mohammed bin Salman, freedom of speech has all but disappeared in Saudi Arabia and in the past year alone at least 67 people have been jailed for criticising the authorities or for discussing women’s rights.

“Grossly unfair trials, torture and extensive use of the death penalty are all part of the grim reality in Saudi Arabia, and no amount of high-profile football, golf or tennis tournaments on Saudi soil is going to change this.

“As an absolute minimum, FIFA should be pressing for significant human rights reform in Saudi Arabia ahead of the Club World Cup, and any players or coaches who take part in this competition should be prepared to speak out about the appalling human rights situation in the country.”

A decision on the hosts for the 2027 Women’s World Cup will be taken by FIFA Congress in the second quarter of next year, the Council agreed.

The FIFA Council also confirmed the new-look, 32-team Club World Cup starting in the summer of 2025 would feature 12 European teams. FIFA president Gianni Infantino first revealed plans for the new competition on the eve of last year’s World Cup final in Qatar.

The Council also confirmed that all three 2026 men’s World Cup co-hosts – Canada, Mexico and the United States – would qualify automatically for the competition.

It also approved the FIFA Annual Report for 2022 which included revenues of 7.6billion US dollars (£6.25bn) for the 2019-22 cycle, and projected earnings of 11bn US dollars (£9.05bn) for the 2023-26 cycle.

FIFA said 5.3bn US dollars (£4.4bn) was invested back into football in the 2019-22 cycle, with 10bn earmarked for reinvestment in 2023-26.

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