Saudi Arabia look set to be awarded AFC Asian Cup 2027 hosting after rivals India pull out

December 5 – The Asian Cup 2027 now looks certain to be held in Saudi Arabia after India pulled out from their bid to host the AFC’s blue riband men’s national team competition.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said, today, it had been officially notified by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) of their decision to withdraw from host selection process.

The AFC Executive Committee had shortlisted the AIFF and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) bids to host the Asian Cup 2027 during its meeting in October.

The AFC Congress will decide the final host in Manama, Bahrain, in February 2023, and the AFC said “SAFF’s bid to host the 19th edition of the AFC Asian Cup in 2027 will now be the only one presented to the 33rd AFC Congress for consideration.”

It is good news for the Saudis and their ambitions to host major championships, and who last week also submitted a bid to host the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

With Saudi Arabia now lined up to host the 2027 Asian Cup, it will mean that three consecutive editions of the expanded championship will have been hosted in the AFC’s west zone: in the UAE in 2019, in Qatar in 2023 (to be played in January 2024), and Saudi Arabia in 2027.

The 2023 edition of the Asian Cup had originally been scheduled for China and to be played in the summer. Plans had been well advanced when the Chinese withdrew from hosting because of the covid pandemic and the country’s battle to keep it under control.

Qatar, South Korea and Indonesia all announced their willingness to fill the gap left by China and stage the 2023 edition, with Qatar being chosen.

The tournament timing will shift from the summer of 2023 to January 2024, thus avoiding the heat of the Qatari summer. January is traditionally the timeslot for the Asian Cup but was rescheduled to June/July to fit with FIFA’s ambitions to reorganise the international calendar and enable longer release windows for players in European leagues.

Saudi Arabia are bidding to host their first ever AFC Asian Cup, having won the tournament three times in 1984, 1988 and 1996. They launched their bid under the banner ‘Forward for Asia’ indicating the Kingdom’s ambition to use the tournament to take the next step forward for Asian football, by providing opportunities for a ‘New Experience, a New Exchange and a New Expansion’.

“The AFC Asian Cup 2027 in Saudi Arabia would be a pivotal moment for the future of Saudi Arabia and Asian football, and we are more determined than ever to leave a lasting legacy for both,” said Ibrahim Alkassim, secretary general of SAFF, in August last year.

“We have many plans and initiatives related to the bid already underway. Moreover, the support for our bid from our government, private sector and general population has been tremendous, as has that from many of our colleagues across the AFC Member Associations.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1670236336labto1670236336ofdlr1670236336owedi1670236336sni@n1670236336osloh1670236336cin.l1670236336uap1670236336

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