Karim Benzema and Riyad Mahrez were among big money summer signings to laud the confirmation that Saudi Arabia will launch a bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup.
The bid announcement was made on Wednesday by Saudi minister of sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal.
‘Hosting a FIFA World Cup in 2034 would help us achieve our dream of becoming a leading nation in world sport and would mark a significant milestone in the country’s transformation,’ he said.
‘As an emerging and welcoming home for all sports, we believe that hosting a FIFA World Cup is a natural next step in our football journey.’
The statement came after a FIFA invited Asia and Oceania nations to bid for the 2034 tournament.
Karim Benzema was one of Saudi Arabia’s big name imports to support their World Cup bid
Former Real Madrid star Benzema claimed Saudi Arabia’s World Cup bid was ‘amazing news’
Al-Ahli winger Riyad Mahrez insisted the bid showed he was ‘clearly in the right place’
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Benzema and Mahrez, who joined Saudi Pro League sides Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli during the summer transfer window, both offered their support behind the bid on social media.
‘Wow! Amazing news. The future is bright – congrats to all my friends and fans in Saudi Arabia on this big announcement,’ said Benzema, who will earn a reported £258million during his three-year Al-Ittihad deal.
‘I know how much you love the game and what this would mean to you! It would be an incredible FIFA World Cup.’
Mahrez added in a separate post’ Here we go…. Clearly in the right place, now and for the future.
‘Amazing to see Saudi Arabia bid for the big one. I hear and see the fans. I feel the passion and love of the game. I hope the world gets to see it too.’
Former England and Liverpool star Steven Gerrard, who now manages Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq, also posted on social media indicating his support for the bid.
‘Incredible to think that the 11 year journey to a home FIFA World Cup might have already started for some of my youth players. Hard work starts now,’ Gerrard wrote on Instagram.
All three posts from the stars came with the official hashtag of the bid #Saudi2034.
Al-Ettifaq manager Steven Gerrard claimed the hard work was starting now for his players
Former England and Liverpool star Gerrard took over the Saudi Pro League side this summer
Reports in the summer had claimed some big-name arrivals into the Saudi Pro League could receive bonus payments if they promote the nation on social media channels.
Saudi authorities had looked to recruit high-calibre players and well-known managers to help boost the development of football in the nation.
A bid for the World Cup is seen as the latest step towards achieving the ambition.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has already announced its backing to the Saudi bid, which could put pay to Australian hopes of entering the race.
‘The entire Asian football family will stand united in support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s momentous initiative,’ AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement on Thursday.
‘And we are committed to working closely with the global football family to ensure its success.’
Yasser Al Misehal, Saudi Arabian Football Federation president, claimed the kingdom’s ‘transformation journey’ was behind the bid.
‘We believe the time is right for Saudi Arabia to host the FIFA World Cup,’ he said.
‘Our bid is driven by a love for the game and a desire to see it grow in every corner of the world. We want to celebrate our football culture and share our country with the world.
Saudi minister of sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal confirmed the bid on Wednesday
The bid came hours after FIFA revealed Spain, Portugal and Morocco are set to host the 2030 World Cup with Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay also staging one match each
‘We are embracing Saudi Arabia’s enthusiasm for innovation and growth as we make our bid for this iconic tournament; the Kingdom’s transformation journey is the driving force behind our bid.
‘We are committed to hosting an exceptional event that celebrates the game, captivates players and fans, and inspires future generations.
‘To be in a position to bid to host a FIFA World Cup is only possible with the full support of the Kingdom’s leadership and we thank them for their continued commitment to drive the country forward and open up new opportunities.’
Saudi Arabia has qualified for the World Cup, on six occasions with their first appearance coming in 1994.
They notably defeated world champions Argentina 2-1 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia would build up to the 2034 tournament by hosting the Asian Cup for the first time in 2027, with four new stadiums being built for the event.
Spain, Portugal and Morocco are likely co-hosts of the 2030 World Cup, with three South American countries to stage opening games to mark the centenary of the initial tournament in Uruguay.
Canada, Mexico and the USA will jointly host the 2026 edition.
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