Saudi Arabia has been selected to host the 2023 Club World Cup in December, FIFA announced yesterday.
The FIFA Council unanimously voted for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to stage the event, which includes the six continental champions plus the host’s national champions, Reuters reports.
The tournament will take place from 12-22 December.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia was selected by the Asian Football Confederation to host the 2027 Asian Cup.
The country has previously hosted sporting events including this year’s Spanish Super Cup, 2022’s world title fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua and the Riyadh Grand Prix.
The FIFA Council meeting also confirmed changes to the structure of the Club World Cup, with approval for an expanded 32-team tournament from 2025.
Rights groups have repeatedly called out Saudi for “sportwashing”; investing or hosting sporting events in a bid to obscure its poor human rights record.
Like many other oppressive regimes in recent years, the Saudis’ public relations campaign has sought to benefit from an association with popular sports, spending big to secure involvement in global sporting events. This includes $145 million in a three-year deal with the Spanish Football Association; $15 million in appearance fees for a single Saudi International men’s golf tournament; $33 million to host the Saudi Arabian Masters snooker tournament in the kingdom; and $100 million for the boxing match known as “Clash on the Dunes” between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua in 2019 and its purchase of Newcastle United FC for $409 million.