Saudi Arabia wins rights to host AFC Asian Cup in 2027
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Saudi Arabia wins rights to host AFC Asian Cup 2027

Saudi Arabia wins rights to host AFC Asian Cup 2027

Saudi Arabia has won the prestigious AFC Asian Cup championship on three occasions: 1984, 1988, and 1996

Gulf Business
AFC Asian Cup

Saudi Arabia has been awarded the hosting rights to stage the AFC Asian Cup 2027.

The announcement was made at the 33rd AFC Congress in Manama, Bahrain on February 1.

Saudi Arabia has won the championship on three occasions (1984, 1988, 1996).

Sport is an integral part of Vision 2030

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Minister of Sport and chairman of the Saudi Olympic & Paralympic Committee, said: “We are committed to not only hosting a great tournament that will be memorable for all fans but also to developing and growing the game across Asia through offering new platforms for exchanges and access to new opportunities.

“Hosting major sports events, and football in specific plays an integral part in our country’s transformative Vision 2030 to increase participation. I do not doubt that this tournament will inspire young boys and girls across the country to participate in sports and dream of representing their country one day.”

Yasser Al Misehal, President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), said: “We are a country bound by a love for football, and the AFC Asian Cup is a championship that holds immense significance for us. It is the tournament where Saudi football experienced its finest moments in. We want to thank all AFC Member Associations for their trust and hope to justify their choice by delivering the most memorable edition of this flagship competition.

“We look forward to welcoming fans from across the continent to experience our passion for the beautiful game, in addition to the diverse cultures and cities our beautiful country has to offer.”

Qualifying phase to begin this year

Former Saudi Arabian national team star and two-time AFC Asian Cup champion Mohamed Abduljawad, said: “It is a dream come true to welcome the AFC Asian Cup to Saudi Arabia. Our fans will create an exceptional atmosphere as they have always done over the years.

“I am confident visitors from across Asia will experience the warm welcome of Saudi hospitality. The excitement has already begun, and we are all preparing for a memorable tournament.”

The tournament’s qualifying phase is to commence in October.

As the host, Saudi Arabia will:

  • Establishing programmes to collaborate with all AFC Member Associations to create an equal playing field with new opportunities for all.
  • Supporting the development of youth football, bringing the next generation of talent into the game.

The 33rd AFC Congress received a presentation on Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the tournament in 2027. Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal led the presentation as he welcomed delegates from across Asia and highlighted the full readiness of the kingdom to host the tournament.

Global partners: NEOM and AFC

In March 2021, Saudi Arabia’s megacity NEOM signed up as a Global Partner of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) from 2021-2024.

The agreement encompasses major AFC national team competitions, including the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Final Round as well as Asia’s flagship national team competition – the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 – which is set to take place in China. The deal also covers the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 and the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022. NEOM will also support the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup.

NEOM has the ambition to become a major global sports destination. A teaser video on NEOM’s website includes visuals of football stadiums, cricket pitches, athletic tracks, and even a virtual reality-aided boxing training session. In 2019, NEOM played host to its inaugural Beach Soccer Cup. The Dakar Rally 2021 also tore through the area’s rugged landscape.

The partnership was secured by the AFC’s commercial partner Football Marketing Asia (FMA) who will manage the rights delivery. FMA will also work with NEOM and the AFC on a range of activation campaigns in the coming months, initially with a digital focus and over time also presenting opportunities for fans to visit NEOM in person.

Read: How Saudi Arabia’s NEOM is using sports to define its future

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