Boardroom Blitz

Are we getting closer to a World Cup in Saudi Arabia? The Saudi football federation recently signed a deal with Caf that may have earned them 54 votes in the race to become the host nation in 2030.

By Philippe Auclair

SAFF president Yasser Al Misehal is a very busy man. The 49 years old graduate in Sport Management Studies from Abu Dhabi's Sorbonne university, who's been in charge of his federation since June 2019, was recently elected as one of the Asian Confederation AFC's representatives on the Fifa Council, another forward step in what has been a swift ascent to the top of football officialdom since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became the de facto ruler of the kingdom in 2017. This made Al Misehal one of the key figures in his country's ambition to become the second Muslim Arab country to host a World Cup, eight years after Qatar organised the 2022 edition. He is not just the president of a football federation and a member of Fifa's supreme committee: he is one of the main architects and ambassadors of the Saudi bid for the 2030 tournament, with Egypt and Greece very much the minor partners in this tri-continental effort.

As was the case with its Gulf neighbour, money is no object for a country which envisions spending 500 billion dollars to make a new “smart” city, Neom, rise from the sand by 2039 near the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. Money alone is not enough, however. Al Misehal's main task is to ensure that a majority of Fifa's 211 Member Associations tick the right box when the 74th Fifa Congress (*) decides where the 'Centenary World Cup' is staged. he exact dates of the Congress have yet to be finalised, but it is expected that it will take place in early September 2024, probably in Zurich.

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