Saudi Arabia are planning a joint bid for the right to host World Cup 2030, with European champions Italy the current leading contenders to share the privilege.
The idea of two countries joining forces to host the international competition was previously opposed by FIFA, but the governing body is now in favour of this structure.
They believe it helps to share the financial responsibilities of hosting the tournament, a fact more pertinent than ever, given the plans to expand the World Cup from 2026, when the United States, Mexico and Canada will all play host.
The Athletic has claimed that Saudi Arabia are already laying the foundations for a bid to host the 2030 World Cup, and are looking to share the tournament, with US-based global consultancy firm Boston Consultancy Group advising them on their potential partners.
And it is thought that the Middle Eastern state may choose Italy as their partners, given their standing in world football and their already formed connections both in and away from football. Saudi Arabia has already played host to two Italian Supercoppa finals in the past few years, and will do so again for the 2021/22 campaign.
The rich state would also prove a useful ally in Italy's bid to host the summer competition, as they could help fund the renovation of stadia in Italy, some of which have been left to rot since the 1990 World Cup.
However, La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Il Napolista) claims that the FIGC - the Italian football federation - has denied that Italy is working on a World Cup collaboration in 2030, despite 'excellent relations' with Saudi Arabia.
Italy is known to hold an interest in hosting a tournament in the future. Gabriele Gravina, the president of the Italian Football Federation, said on Tuesday that they “will evaluate an Italian candidacy for the 2028 European Championship and the World Cup of 2030, in which the centenary of the world championship is celebrated.”
Italy has hosted four major tournaments since the 1934 World Cup, and may be hoping to secure number five after their Euro 2020 success this summer.