Israel says FIFA wants it to host 2030 World Cup with neighbours

Palestinians slam Infantino’s Israel visit that saw FIFA chief attend an event at the museum built at the historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

Left to right, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, former US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman attend the launch of the 'Friedman Center for Peace through Strength' at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem [Menahem Kahana/AFP]

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has suggested Israel co-host the 2030 World Cup along with other regional states, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said following a meeting on Tuesday.

Infantino became the first head of the world football governing body to visit Israel this week.

“In their discussion, the FIFA chief raised the idea that Israel would host the #WorldCup in 2030, together with other countries in the region, most notably with the United Arab Emirates,” Bennett’s spokesperson said on Twitter.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) said it had apologised for not hosting Infantino due to the FIFA chief’s participation in an Israeli event that “did not serve his declared messages regarding the values ​​of the international football system”.

With the presence of former US officials that were part of the Trump administration, Infantino joined in the opening of the “Friedman Center for Peace through Strength” at Israel’s Museum of Tolerance, which the PFA denounced on Tuesday as “participating in a political conference that has nothing to do with sports”.

The museum is built over the historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, which the PFA denounced as “a flagrant violation of international law, human rights and the feelings of millions of Muslims in the world”.

Politicising sports will not serve the cause of peace, the PFA said in its statement.

Israel has a track record of bombing Palestinian sports stadiums, preventing football players from the Gaza Strip to train and play with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, and has targeted and arrested footballers.

“We had hoped that this visit would be a prelude to ending the suffering of the Palestinian players and the occupation measures aimed at impeding the dissemination and development of the game in the Palestinian territories, and not to support the Anglican-Zionist groups that profess their call to violate international law and deny the basic rights of the Palestinian people,” the PFA statement added.

Biennial World Cup

The World Cup tournament scheduled for 2030 is also desired by South America, who could bid with Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, while a combined United Kingdom bid has also been mooted.

Portugal and Spain, along with China, have also expressed interest.

The host is to be decided in 2024.

After the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the first 48-nation World Cup will be held in 2026 in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

FIFA is considering the feasibility of hosting the World Cup every two years from 2028 but this has met with opposition from various bodies within the game, including European confederation UEFA.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies