A prominent figure in global football, Lise Klaveness, has spoken out against FIFA, accusing the organisation of awarding World Cups, including one to Saudi Arabia, through a process lacking transparency. Klaveness, the president of the Norwegian football federation, is the first football federation chief to publicly express concerns about the decision-making process, led by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, that determined the hosts for the 2030 and 2034 editions.
Expressing her discontent, Klaveness stated in an interview with Sky News, “It has not been a transparent process. We have to expect good governance.” She pointed out the disparity between the substantial reforms introduced in FIFA several years ago, theoretically improving transparency, and the perceived lack of implementation.
Furthermore, Klaveness highlighted her very concerned stance regarding FIFA’s approach to women’s football, especially as the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup remains unconfirmed. This, she says, underscores broader concerns about gender equity within FIFA and its commitment to promoting women’s football globally.
She further explained that the overall process raises questions about the transformation promised in world football’s decision-making when Infantino assumed the presidency in 2016, succeeding the discredited Sepp Blatter.
An unprecedented move last month by the closed FIFA Council saw a plan to combine rival bids for the 2030 tournament across six countries on three continents, limiting the opportunities for most nations to bid. This manoeuvre appears to pave the way for Saudi Arabia to secure an uncontested bid for the 2034 World Cup.
Klaveness criticised decisions being made in closed rooms, stating, “When decisions are made in closed rooms, it’s the opposite of what the reforms were promising us.” She called for transparency regarding Infantino’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, focusing on the process rather than singling out the country.
The selective allowance of bids and the lack of explanation for restricting bids to Asia and Oceania for the 2034 World Cup, contrary to FIFA statutes, add to the growing concerns. Only weeks were given to form bids, proving challenging for democratic nations like Australia that require government agreements.
While FIFA portrays the selection of the 2030 and 2034 World Cup hosts as an ongoing process, Klaveness pointed to Infantino’s recent Instagram comments as confirmation that the tournaments are set to be hosted without mentioning any ongoing evaluations.