The fact that Saudi Arabia is the only bidder for the 2034 FIFA World Cup has raised some eyebrows.

FIFA World Cup in Saudi Arabia

The footballing world was taken aback when Saudi Arabia was revealed to be the lone bidder to host the FIFA World Cup in 2034, causing politicians and international leaders to speak out against the decision. Now that Australia has dropped out of the running, Saudi Arabia has a clean shot at hosting the event. Although the formal presentation will most likely take place next year, the lack of viable alternatives has caused widespread worry across the worldwide football community.

Many people, notably Norwegian Football President Lise Klaveness and National Team Manager Stale Solbakken, have been quite critical of FIFA President Gianni Infantino's handling of this process. The dismay and fear about Saudi Arabia's candidacy, however, has spread beyond the football world and has been voiced by Norwegian MPs in the Storting, the country's national parliament.

Liberal Party member and head of the Family and Culture Committee Grunde Almeland voiced his displeasure and said that Saudi Arabia's action only served to highlight the necessity for a diplomatic boycott of such gatherings. He warned that football's image may be tarnished if it became associated with nations that had a history of human rights abuses, anti-queer legislation, and widespread monitoring of its inhabitants. For Almeland, "it is nothing less than a crisis for football."

Concerning "sports washing," as Almeland said, is the practice of bringing famous athletes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in an effort to boost the country's image abroad. He expressed disappointment at the success of these initiatives and urged measures to be taken to stop the sport from being used in this manner.

Turid Kristensen, a conservative and a representative on sports policy, agreed. She voiced her apprehension and dismay about Saudi Arabia's candidacy and questioned whether or not the country would do a better job of hosting the World Cup than Qatar. Kristensen advocated for openness in the selection process and cast doubt on FIFA's dedication to human rights.

Green Party head Arild Hermstad praised Football President Lise Klaveness for her scathing critique of FIFA's leadership. In his opinion, FIFA's present leadership is working against the organization's stated mission to advance democracy and human rights via football. Hermstad said that the best players in the world are wasting chances presented by soccer.

Hermstad has also urged the Norwegian government to become involved in the discussion about money laundering in sports. He said that democracies should work together to stop wealthy authoritarian nations from hosting large athletic events that may be used to justify human rights abuses.

In response to the criticism, FIFA has promised a thorough review of Saudi Arabia's bid that takes into account the country's infrastructure, services, commercial considerations, sustainability, human rights, and more. A FIFA conference, probably at the end of next year, will formally award the championship for 2034.

Concerns have been voiced concerning the fairness of the selection process and the possibility that human rights violations may be overlooked if the 2034 FIFA World Cup is held in Saudi Arabia. It remains to be seen whether the world's most popular sport can successfully navigate these treacherous waters and retain its principles of inclusion, fair play, and respect for everyone, but the worldwide football community is now grappling with these problems.
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