The Saudi Arabian delegation of the bid team to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027 Sunday delivered its official bid book to the AFC President Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa and AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John here.
With COVID-19 restrictions preventing the Saudi delegation from being at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, the bid team were pleased to have the opportunity to present the bid book to the AFC president and general secretary in person.
Among those representing the Saudi 2027 bid were Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) President Yasser Al-Mis’hal, SAFF Vice President and AFC Executive Committee member Khalid Althebity, as well as SAFF Board Member Ahmed Eid Al Harbi and the SAFF General Secretary Ibrahim Alkassim.
The bid book was presented to the AFC president alongside a hologram of Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz, who introduced the key messages of the bid.
Under the slogan ‘Forward for Asia’, the Saudi 2027 bid seeks to use the Asian Cup in 2027 as a platform to provide new and unique opportunities for the AFC’s 47 member associations to build the profile of football in their countries.
The meeting with the AFC leadership follows on from Saturday’s announcement of a brand new sponsor for the bid, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), which together with a highly successful bid engagement campaign, #PlayItForward, have indicated unprecedented levels of preparation and support for what would be the first ever Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia, should the hosting rights be awarded to the Kingdom.
AFC President Shaikh Salman said, “We could witness five member associations submitting bids to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027, which demonstrates the ever-growing status of this competition and how attractive it is both technically and commercially to potential hosts.”
Al-Mis’hal said, “We are very grateful to Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa for taking the time to meet with us in person to receive our bid book. Saudi 2027 is about the future of Asian football.
“While our bid book provides an overview for how we will host the best possible AFC Asian Cup from a technical perspective, it also includes a clear overview of our vision for leaving a lasting legacy for all of Asian football.
“We will ensure that every AFC member association is included in the tournament, whether it is in the preparation in the years leading up, through football and knowledge exchanges or further growth opportunities, Saudi 2027 is ready to host an incredible event. We look forward to continuing to share our plans over the coming months.”
Alkassim added, “With our focus on providing a new experience, a new exchange and a new expansion for all of the AFC’s member associations, our bid to host the AFC Asian Cup is firmly rooted in opening up new horizons for Asian football.
“Football is an important part of life for our population of almost 34 million people, and we are determined to make sure that the opportunity of hosting the Asian Cup for the first time in our history will provide so many benefits, in Saudi Arabia and beyond.
“As a bid, we are greatly encouraged by the feedback that we have received from across Asia and can’t wait to continue to develop our plans in line with our vision of ‘Forward for Asia’.”
The decision for the host of the AFC Asian Cup 2027 is due to made in 2021.
Meanwhile, the partnership with Saudia, signifies the overwhelming domestic support for Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the AFC Asian Cup for the first time ever; support which has been seen from all aspects of society, including government leaders, commercial enterprises and the population as a whole.
Having won the AFC Asian Cup three times in 1984, 1988 and 1996, Saudi Arabia has until now never hosted the competition, offering a unique opportunity for Asian football to reach new boundaries. The bid’s slogan, ‘Forward for Asia’, reflects the desire to use the tournament to provide new benefits for all the AFC’s 47 member associations.
Al-Mis’hal said, “It is a tremendous honor and pleasure to announce Saudia as an official sponsor of our bid to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027. From our initial decision to bid for the tournament, the support we have received from our prosperous commercial sector has been extraordinary.
“Our partnership with Saudia, one of the Kingdom’s leading companies, is a big boost to our efforts and symbolises our desire to combine our domestic passion for football with a truly international impact.”
Chief Executive Officer of Saudia, Capt. Ibrahim S. Koshy added, “It is a great privilege for Saudia to be involved in the bid of Saudi Arabia to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027. Football is part of our culture in Saudi Arabia, playing a crucial role in uniting and inspiring our population.
“The opportunity of hosting the Asian Cup for the first time in the Kingdom’s history would be a true game changer in the history of our nation, and our ongoing interconnectivity with countries across Asia. We are excited about playing our role in supporting this universal dream become reality.”