The bidding war for the 2030 FIFA World Cup is heating up as more nations throw their names into the hat.
England's potential bid was dealt a massive blow at the Euro 2020 final, when shameful fan violence marred what should have been a football celebration.
Following the Wembley disaster, Spain and Portugal are emerging as favorites to secure UEFA's support for the 2030 global event, but they may face some late competition.
That's because it was revealed today that Saudi Arabia is planning a bizarre joint bid with Italy, the newly crowned European champions.
Joint bids have historically been very successful, with the United States, Mexico, and Canada set to host the event in 2026, but Saudi Arabia and Italy make for an odd team.
According to The Athletic, Boston Consultancy Group, a US-based global consultancy firm, is advising the Saudis on their bid, with some suggesting they team up with Egypt and Morocco. However, the latter two would need to invest heavily in infrastructure, and security would be a major concern.
With that in mind, it appears that a European partner would make the most sense at this point, and Italy appears to be the ideal candidate. Italy has hosted four major football tournaments but has spent very little on stadium infrastructure since the World Cup in 1990.
While the Saudis have demonstrated their ability to host major sporting events with ease in recent years, their involvement in a World Cup bid could spark widespread controversy. They have been accused of sport washing their questionable human rights records by using large sums of money to divert attention away from them.
However, as The Athletic points out, as the world's largest oil exporter, it can be difficult to say no to Saudi Arabia at times.
On paper, the partnership makes sense; the Saudis love football, Italy is a true footballing mecca, and it would venture into FIFA's beloved 'emerging market' niche.