Saudi Arabia offered to pay for new sports stadiums in Greece and Egypt if they agreed to team up with the oil-rich Gulf heavyweight in a joint bid to host the 2030 football World Cup, POLITICO can reveal.
In exchange, the Saudis would get to stage three-quarters of all the matches, under the proposed deal.
The dramatic offer — likely worth billions of euros in construction costs — was discussed in a private conversation between Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in summer of 2022, according to a senior official familiar with the matter.
A second senior official with knowledge of private discussions on the bid told POLITICO that Saudi Arabia is prepared to “fully underwrite the costs” of hosting for Greece and Egypt, but 75 per cent of the enormous 48-team tournament itself would be held in the Gulf state.
POLITICO approached all three governments for comment. The Greek and Saudi governments declined to comment, and the Egyptian government did not respond to POLITICO’s requests. FIFA also declined to comment.