March 29 – Saudi Arabia has taken another significant step of integration into the Asian, and global football environment, with the announcement of a sponsorship deal between the AFC and the new city of NEOM currently under construction in the kingdom.
NEOM becomes a Global Partner of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) national team and club competitions from 2021-2024.
Saudi Arabia has already stepped up as a host city for three centralised AFC Champions League groups to be played next week as well as hosting final matches in the preliminary group stage Asian qualifiers for the Asian Cup in 2023 and the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Saudi is also bidding to host the Asian Cup 2027.
Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, said: “The AFC is delighted to welcome NEOM to the fast expanding AFC family of global partners, which once again reinforces the undeniable stature and prestige of the AFC’s brand and its competitions.
“NEOM’s partnership with AFC not only underscores the attractive and engaging platform the AFC provides through its many world-class competitions but also emphasises the profound and lasting impact Asia’s number one sport can have on strengthening communities.”
The AFC agreement includes sponsorship of the AFC Asian Qualifiers as well as the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 and the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022, plus the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup.
NEOM is a region in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea where the Saudis are focussed on creating a new model for sustainable living. It is envisaged 1 million people will live in new towns and cities, encompassing ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations.
Nadhmi Al Nasr, CEO of NEOM said: “NEOM is extremely excited about its ambitious partnership with the AFC. Football is by far Saudi Arabia’s favourite sport. It holds a special place in the hearts of our people and therefore provides a unique opportunity to inspire and enable NEOM’s citizens to lead active lifestyles, as we move towards our goal of having the most physically active population on the planet.
“We regard and value the AFC as a progressive and innovative partner who is committed to taking football in Asia to greater heights. This reflects NEOM’s own ambition to become a globally recognised centre of sporting excellence, to provide a world class environment for the brightest minds and best talent to excel, and to contribute to the growth and economic prosperity of the Kingdom.”
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