Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams floated the idea of Israel hosting a World Cup tournament along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in an on-stage interview at The Jerusalem Post Conference in London last week.
The businessman discussed the importance of promoting Israel to the world through sports, music and culture.
“Most people are not interested in politics or economics,” Adams told Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz. “But most people are interested in sports, music and other cultural events. I’m trying to speak to the people that I call the ‘silent majority,’ who don’t know or care that much about Israel.”
Adams said he has met with Saudi Arabia’s sports minister, who expressed interest in pursuing his idea for the 2030 World Cup.
The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar in November and December. The next tournament in 2026 will be hosted by three countries: Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Although Israel has peace agreements with both Egypt and the UAE, it does not have official diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. Normalization of ties would be a necessary prerequisite to make Adam’s World Cup dream a reality.
Next week, Israeli national soccer players are expected to play side by side with Emirati, Bahraini and Moroccan stars at the Abraham Accords Festival and Games in Dubai. They will face a team of international soccer legends that includes Brazilian Kaká and Julio Cesar, Spain’s Carles Puyol and Míchel Salgado, Argentina’s Javier Saviola and others.
Adams has planned several high-profile sporting and cultural events in Israel, including the first three stages of the Giro d’Italia Grand Tour bicycle race in 2018 and bringing Madonna to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in 2019. He also co-founded the Israel-Premier Tech professional cycling team – the first Israeli team to compete at the Tour de France.
“One billion people watched the Giro d’Italia bicycle race in Israel. The World Cup audience would be 4 billion,” he said.
Recently, Adams initiated the first-ever Middle Eastern Regional Ironman Championship, scheduled to take place in Tiberias on Nov. 25 with 6,000 international athletes.
“Ironman Israel will attract the finest athletes from all across our region and beyond,” he said. “We are looking forward to welcoming thousands of athletes from neighboring countries to the beautiful Galilee for what will surely be an historic event."
The Ironman challenge consists of a swim of 2.4 miles (3.86 kilometers), a bike ride of 112 miles (180.25 kilometers) and a full marathon (26.22 miles or 42.20 kilometers).
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.