RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation announced on Tuesday its application to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
The Asian Football Confederation pledged at its annual executive committee meeting in Hong Kong on Dec. 1 last year that it would announce plans to appoint hosts for the 2027 Asian Cup “as soon as possible” in order to allow plenty of preparation time.
China was selected to host the next tournament — the 18th edition — in June and July 2023 under a new expanded format that was launched in the UAE in 2019, which has increased to 24 teams and 51 matches.
“At the AFC 29th Congress in Paris, we chose the People’s Republic of China as the next hosts of the AFC Asian Cup in 2023. And I know that China PR will deliver a world class event – in keeping with the stature of the AFC Asian Cup,” said AFC president, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa.
“But China PR has just four years in which to prepare – and although they are extremely capable – I would like to allow future hosts even more time. With the expanded format, which was launched in the UAE in 2019, we have 24 teams and 51 matches and so we need eight to ten world-class stadiums.
“The scale of the tournament now may mean some construction work, which of course takes planning and time. We need to develop the best facilities for players, fans and for our broadcast and commercial partners in line with the stature of the AFC Asian Cup as a world-class event,” Salman added.
The host for the 2027 cup is expected to be chosen by early 2021 and the decision will be made by the AFC’s 30-member executive committee.
As China will host the 2023 tournament, the next host will theoretically move back to West Asia and apart from Saudi Arabia, other potential contenders include Iraq, Qatar, India and Uzbekistan.
Saudi Arabia hosted several major sporting events in 2019, including the Italian Super Cup and the Spanish Super Cup, Clash on the Dunes with Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr., and the Dakar Rally, among others.