Bengaluru, October 14: FIFA President Gianni Infantino has hinted at the possibility of Israel co-hosting the 2030 World Cup with some Middle East countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while the 2026 edition will be co-hosted by USA, Canada and Mexico.
Infantino raised the prospect of Israel co-hosting the 2030 edition during a two-day visit to the country where he met Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog.
NEWS | FIFA president Gianni Infantino has opened the door to a World Cup being held in Israel, Palestine and their Middle Eastern neighbours in the future.— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) October 13, 2021
The head of football's global governing body was asked during his Israel trip about the possibility for the country to host a major FIFA event.
"You need to have vision, dreams and ambitions," Infantino said, according to a FIFA statement.
"In recent months, I was in Dubai where the UAE Football Association and the Israel Football Association have signed an historic agreement.
"I think that co-hosting is the future, so why not dreaming and thinking about it - be it at youth or senior level, men or women - because the FIFA World Cup has this unique magic in bringing people together and in uniting people."
In a statement, Bennett's office said that in his talks with Infantino, "the FIFA president raised the idea that Israel would host the World Cup in 2030, together with other countries in the region, led by the UAE".
The brief statement said Steven Mnuchin, former Secretary of the Treasury under US president Donald Trump, was present at the meeting, along with the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
The Trump administration initiated the 2020 "Abraham Accords", which saw several Arab countries, namely the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, normalise their relations with Israel.
Later, speaking at a conference organised by the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Infantino stressed the size of the undertaking in hosting a football World Cup.
"Today, hosting the FIFA World Cup is a very big venture. It's more than just a sports event," he said.
"It is an event where you have 3.5 to four million tickets sold, where you have 1.5 to two million people visiting a country, where you have the world watching, with four billion people in the case of the FIFA World Cup, and 1.2 billion people for the FIFA Women's World Cup."
During his Israel visit, Infantino stressed how FIFA wants to contribute, "however possible, to peace and stability in the region", world football's governing body said.
The 2002 edition, which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea was the last time FIFA World Cup was held as a joint venture.
(With inputs from Agencies)