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Saudi Arabia to Bid for the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially announced its intention to bid for the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

This is a landmark moment for women’s football in Saudi Arabia and Asia.

The bid builds on many recent developments to grow women’s football in Saudi Arabia:
– Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) Women’s Football Department was established in 2019.
– The Kingdom’s first women’s Regional League was launched in November 2021, followed by a National Championship in January 2022.
– The Women’s National Football Team was established in 2021 and played its first official international friendly match in February 2022 in a tournament in the Maldives.
– The Women’s Futsal National Football Team was established in 2019 and has participated in three competitions since.
In 2022, the Kingdom hosted the 3rd West Asian Football Federation Women’s Futsal Championship.
– Saudi Arabia established the 1st Football Regional Center for female players U17.
– 40 D License Coaching Courses have been delivered in schools around the Kingdom, awarding 857 teachers coaching certificates. In addition to 15 Referee Courses, 544 teachers were qualified as referees, all in preparation to launch The Girls Schools League in September 2022.
– There are 100+ C Licensed Coaches in the Kingdom.
– 1st AFC B License Coaching Course concluded in February 2022.
– There are two international coexisting coaching programs for female coaches, both held in Spain.
– There are online educational workshops in cooperation with the Spanish and Brazilian Football Federations.
– Qualification courses have been established for new female referees, with 63 referees approved under SAFF.
– The first female Saudi referee will participate in the 4th AFC Referees Academy course.

Growing the grassroots of women’s football will be central to the bid. Inspiring women’s football across Asia will be built into a Saudi-hosted 2026 competition. From players to coaches and fans to officials, Saudi Arabia is committed to developing and growing women’s football to take the game to the next level.

Lamia bin Bahian, Board Member of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, said: “We have huge ambitions for the development of the women’s game in Saudi Arabia, and the recent progress has been incredible. We really are entering a new and exciting era for women’s football.”

Monika Staab, manager of the Saudi Arabian women’s national team, said: “Saudi Arabia has embraced women’s football. When I speak to girls across the Kingdom, I see their excitement for the game. The 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup is an unprecedented opportunity to inspire a generation of girls to achieve their football dreams.”

Yasser Almisehal, President of SAFF, said: “The future of women’s football in Saudi Arabia is bright, and we are committed to growing the game here and throughout Asia. More and more young girls are playing football in this country, and we want to inspire them further. Hosting the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026 would be a great occasion for our players and would be made memorable by the passion of our fans.”

There has recently been a huge increase in the profile of the women’s game:

More than 1.2 billion viewers watched the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup was held in India, with the People’s Republic of China emerging as champions with a 3-2 victory over the Republic of Korea in the final, securing a record ninth title.
More than four goals were scored per game in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup: the highest in any major international football tournament in the past 50 years.

Source: Ministry of Sport – Saudi Arabia