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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

FIFA chief raises prospect of Israeli World Cup bid

FIFA has raised the prospect of Israel co-hosting a future World Cup, with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office mentioning the possibility of bidding for the men’s 2030 tournament.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino completed a two-day visit to Israel on Tuesday by meeting Bennett and President Isaac Herzog.

The head of world football’s governing body was asked during his Israel trip about the possibility for the country to host a major FIFA event.

“You need to have vision, dreams and ambitions,” Infantino said, according to a FIFA statement.

“In recent months, I was in Dubai where the UAE Football Association and the Israel Football Association have signed an historic agreement.

“I think that co-hosting is the future, so why not dreaming and thinking about it — be it at youth or senior level, men or women — because the FIFA World Cup has this unique magic in bringing people together and in uniting people.”

In a statement, Bennett’s office said that in his talks with Infantino, “the FIFA president raised the idea that Israel would host the World Cup in 2030, together with other countries in the region, led by the United Arab Emirates”.

The brief statement said Steven Mnuchin, former Secretary of the Treasury under US president Donald Trump, was present at the meeting, along with the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

The Trump administration initiated the 2020 “Abraham Accords”, which saw several Arab countries, namely the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, normalise their relations with Israel.

The Middle East region is set to host the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar, in November and December next year.

The United States, Mexico and Canada are co-hosting the 2026 World Cup.

FIFA plans to select the 2030 host in 2024.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Infantino stressed the size of the undertaking in hosting a football World Cup.

“Today, hosting the FIFA World Cup is a very big venture. It is more than just a sports event,” he said.

“It is an event where you have 3.5 to four million tickets sold, where you have 1.5 to two million people visiting a country, where you have the world watching, with four billion people in the case of the FIFA World Cup, and 1.2 billion people for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

During his Israel visit, Infantino stressed how FIFA wants to contribute, “however possible, to peace and stability in the region”, world football’s governing body said.

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