Human Rights Watch, a well-known human rights advocacy organization, has charged FIFA with breaking its own regulations when allocating hosting rights for the World Cup competitions in 2030 and 2034.
After a surprise announcement that it had been approved as the only candidate by the FIFA Council, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco effectively secured hosting rights for the centennial FIFA World Cup in 2030. All that was left to do was complete the formalities of a successful bidding process and ratification by the Congress of the following year.
Controversially, the concept calls for unique, one-time games to be held in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay, three South American countries.
FIFA also mandated that the 2034 World Cup may only take place in Asia or Oceania and set a strict deadline of October 31 for nations to express interest in participating.
The Asian Football Confederation supported Saudi Arabia’s candidacy, which was announced with promptness. The only possible opposition was thought to be an Australian-led project, but it was not expected to get enough support.
Additionally, the non-governmental organization cited the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Secretary General Fatma Samoura’s publication, “Key Principles of the Reformed Bidding Process,” which called for the host to “formally commit to conducting their activities based on sustainable event management principles and to respecting international human rights and labor standards according to the United Nations’ Guiding Principles.” The publication was created for the 2026 edition, which was awarded to the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
It said that it had “so far failed to apply these principles in the award of the 2030 and 2034 World Cups” and that a “unreasonably tight” timetable had been set for the 2034 World Cup.
Human Rights Watch also noted comparisons with the 2010 World Cup doubleheader awarded to Qatar and Russia, respectively, which was generally seen as a factor in the fall of embattled former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
The FIFA Executive Committee then had the last say in the host country, but for the 2026 edition, a congressional vote will replace this.
FIFA was urged by Human Rights Watch’s director of global initiatives, Minky Worden, to postpone the 2034 tournament.
A World Cup in Saudi Arabia, she continued, “exposes FIFA’s commitments to human rights as a sham.”