Saudi Arabia has officially expressed interest in potentially hosting the 2035 Women’s World Cup. This news comes as the Middle Eastern nation is already working on ways to also host the 2034 men’s World Cup. Possibly holding back-to-back major tournaments in the same area is fairly uncommon.

Saudi exec on hosting a Women’s World Cup: ‘Why not?’

Monika Staab, a technical director of the Saudi women’s national team, recently revealed the country’s quest to host both competitions. “I believe it’s a bright future [for the women’s and girls’ game in Saudi Arabia],” Staab said during a conference in England. “I told [the sport’s administrators] it takes time to go to the World Cup. [In] 2034, I know they want to host the men’s World Cup.”

“Why not host the Women’s World Cup in 2035? They are going to have the AFC competition, hosting in 2026, so we’re now getting a team ready to be at least competing at that level.”

Despite Staab’s comments, Saudi Arabia has not yet been officially confirmed as hosts of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2026. However, they are currently frontrunners along with Australia.

Nation has been accused of human rights abuses

Holding the 2035 Women’s World Cup in Saudi Arabia could become an issue for certain players competing in the tournament. Many women’s professional soccer players are open about their sexuality. However, same-sex sexual activity is still currently illegal in the Middle Eastern country. In fact, the death penalty remains a possible punishment for violators of the law.

The nation’s tourism authority previously planned on running a Visit Saudi campaign during the recent 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Nevertheless, FIFA eventually dropped the effort.

“It would be quite the irony for Saudi’s tourism body to sponsor the largest celebration of women’s sport in the world when you consider that, as a woman in Saudi Arabia, you can’t even have a job without the permission of your male guardian,” stated Amnesty International Australia’s Nikita White.

England may eventually rival Saudis for tournament

BBC reports that England could become possible opposition to Saudi Arabia for the 2035 tournament. The European nation was previously interested in hosting the 2031 Women’s World Cup as well. However, a joint bid from Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium looks likely to land the 2027 competition. If successful, this would almost certainly push back England’s plans.

Photo: Imago.