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Saudi Arabia is looking into the possibility of a joint-bid for the 2030 World Cup with Italy – despite the two nations being over 2,000 miles apart, according to reports.
The bidding process for the centenary tournament is in its infancy, with as many as nine potential countries and coalitions expressing an interest in hosting the event.
They include a British Isles bid, split between England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and a four-way bid from Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – 100 years on from the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay.
According to The Athletic, Saudi Arabia are also interested in hosting the tournament and are exploring the potential for a joint-bid with a number of nations – including Italy.
The report says the Saudis have also been advised on a potential three-way bid with Morocco and Egypt as part of a 'MENA' (Middle East and North Africa) coalition, but it's Italy who are the most likely candidates.
Italy and Saudi Arabia have developed closer ties on the pitch in recent years, with the Gulf state hosting the last two Italian Super Cup finals – something it will do again this year.
What do you make of Saudi Arabia's bid to host the 2030 World Cup? Let us know in the comments section.
But the distance between the two nations – 2,250 miles to be exact – has caused consternation among supporters on social media.
One fan joked: "This is so stupid. Why not have a joint bid from Saudi and the moon?"
While someone else added: "Qatar 2022 and then Saudi in 2030. No way. It should be a joint England, Scotland and Wales."
Others pointed out Saudi Arabia's human rights record, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, and their laws around drinking and treatment of LGBTQ+ people.
Under current Saudi law, same-sex marriage is not permitted, while same-sex intimacy is a criminal offence. Alcohol is also banned.
Saudi Arabia has made an effort to appear more open to the world in recent years by hosting a series of major sporting events.
According to human rights organisation Grant Liberty, it has spent $1.5billion on hosting the likes of Anthony Joshua's heavyweight title rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019 and a European Tour golf tournament.
Later this year, it will welcome Formula One to the country for the very first time in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
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- World Cup
- England Football Team
- Saudi Arabia
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