On Wednesday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced that Saudi Arabia has won the bid to host the 2027 Asian Cup.
The announcement was made during the AFC Congress held in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Saudi Arabia was the only remaining bidder after India withdrew from the competition in December.
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Following the announcement, Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal expressed excitement, stating, “We are excited to deliver the greatest tournament in the competition’s history.”
“The kingdom is undergoing a transformation and we are eagerly looking forward to what it will be like in 2027.”
As the largest oil exporter in the world, Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in sports deals, including the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, hosting Formula One races in Jeddah, and partnering with the lucrative LIV Golf tour.
In the near future, Saudi Arabia will host various sports events including the Women’s Asian Cup, the Asian Games, and even the Asian Winter Games, held on artificial snow. This follows the World Cup hosted by neighboring Qatar in November and December.
The desert kingdom is considering hosting a World Cup, Summer Olympics, and potentially even a Winter Olympics, along with several other significant events.
These efforts are part of the larger vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to transform the Saudi economy and reduce its dependence on oil, ahead of the shift towards alternative fuels.
“The Asian Cup is sure to be fantastic in Saudi Arabia,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the Manama congress.
The 2023 Asian Cup will take place in Qatar, as the previously planned host, China, had to withdraw due to the Covid pandemic.