UK and Saudi Arabia on 2035 Women’s World Cup collision course

Saudi Arabia fans celebrate after the FIFA World Cup Group C match at Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar. Picture date: Tuesday November 22, 2022
Saudi Arabia fans celebrate after the FIFA World Cup Group C match at Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar. Picture date: Tuesday November 22, 2022

Britain could be on a collision course with Saudi Arabia to stage the Women’s World Cup after a senior football official in the Gulf state said it should bid for the 2035 tournament.

The 2034 men’s World Cup is on track to be held in the Arab state after Fifa handed the 2030 edition to five countries across Europe, Africa and South America.

And the technical director of women’s football at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), Monika Staab, told the Leaders conference in London that it should also bid for the 2035 tournament.

“I know they want to host the men’s World Cup,” said former Queens Park Rangers player Staab. “Why not host the women’s World Cup in 2035?

“They’re going to have the Women’s AFC [Women’s Asian Cup] competition in 2026 so we now have a team ready to at least be competing at that level.”

Being awarded the 2035 tournament could not only make the country the first to stage back-to-back men’s and women’s World Cups but may also wreck Britain’s hopes of hosting the latter event until at least 2039.

Telegraph Sport revealed last year that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would try to bring the tournament to the UK for the first time following England’s European Championship triumph on home soil.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to a TV reporter during his visit to Clacton-on-Sea, Britain
Rishi Sunak has already stated his intention to launch a bid for the tournament in 2035 - Reuters/Frank Augstein

The pledge came too late to bid for the 2027 edition, for which a bid from Uefa nations was already planned jointly by Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

They face competition from a joint United States-Mexico offer and separate ones from Brazil and South Africa.

Should the tournament go to Europe, it would almost certainly not be staged by the continent again until 2035 at the earliest.

Sunak said last year: “Britain is a terrific host of major sporting events, which not only make us immensely proud, but also generate jobs and opportunities. I will therefore work with home nations FAs to explore a bid for a future World Cup so those inspired by the Lionesses have even more to look forward to. Global Britain will be the home of the world’s best sport.”

Telegraph Sport has been told the Football Association would be interested in bidding for the tournament in future.

Awarding it to Saudi Arabia could prove even more controversial than handing the country the men’s edition given the nation’s record when it comes to women’s rights.

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