Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said on Thursday they are still exploring a bid to host the 2034 World Cup, despite the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) having declared support for Saudi Arabia.
After naming Morocco, Spain and Portugal as 2030 World Cup hosts on Wednesday, with Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay hosting the opening matches to mark the tournament's centenary, FIFA then invited countries from the Asia and Oceania regions to submit bids for 2034.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation announced its bid minutes later, with AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa then welcoming the announcement, saying "the entire Asian football family will stand united in support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's momentous initiative".
Today, we enter the next chapter of Saudi football: intending to bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup™Our bid is inspired by Saudi Arabia’s transformation journey, the passion of our fans, and a commitment to deliver an amazing tournament.#Saudi2034
Learn more ➡… pic.twitter.com/zmpNt86Ksl
— الاتحاد السعودي لكرة القدم (@saudiFF) October 4, 2023
Australia, which switched to the Asian confederation from Oceania in 2006, has already announced its intention to bid for the 2034 tournament and Johnson said nothing had changed.
"As stated previously, Football Australia is exploring the possibility of bidding for the 2029 FIFA Club World Cup and/or the FIFA World Cup 2034," he said in a statement.
"We are encouraged that after the hugely successful FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023, the football family of Asia and Oceania will once again have the opportunity to showcase their ability to welcome the world and host the best FIFA tournaments."
Football Australia, state, and federal governments have been given a 25-day deadline by FIFA to declare interest in bidding for the 2034 Men’s World Cup
— ozhubfootball (@ozhubfootball) October 5, 2023
The deadline for prospective hosts to submit their confirmations of interest is Oct. 31.
Australia have never hosted a men's World Cup and were eliminated in the first round of voting for the 2022 event.
The 2026 World Cup, which will feature 48 teams, will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)