Israel co-hosting a FIFA World Cup with one or more Arab countries is the latest dream of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Infantino is currently pushing to hold soccer’s showpiece event every two years rather than four. If he’s successful, that would mean more hosts would be needed for the increased number of tournaments.
During a two-day visit to Israel this week, Infantino met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and discussed the possibility of Israel co-hosting the 2030 World Cup with some of its Arab neighbors, led by the United Arab Emirates.
“That’s a goal we can work towards!” Bennett’s office said on social media.
The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco signed the so-called Abraham Accords with Israel last year, normalizing relations among the countries.
Morocco, which has unsuccessfully bid to host the World Cup on five occasions, is among a number of potential contenders for 2030.
“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.”
The Middle East will be hosting the World Cup for the first time next year, when it comes to Qatar in November and December 2022.
A return to the region in 2030 would appear unlikely, though that could change if the World Cup becomes a biennial event beginning as early as 2028. The 2026 edition, the first to feature 48 teams, will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Infantino was also scheduled to meet with the head of the Palestinian soccer federation during his visit, but the Palestinians canceled after Infantino attended the opening of The Friedman Center for Peace through Strength at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.
The center was created by David Friedman, ambassador to Israel under former U.S. President Donald Trump. The Palestinians, who had cut ties with the U.S. last year during the final months of the Trump Administration, were angered over Infantino’s association with Friedman and also with the location of the Museum of Tolerance, which is built on part of an old Muslim cemetery.