Uzbeks and Saudis pull out of 2026 Women’s Asian Cup bids, leaving Aussies clear run at hosting

February 23 – Australia, co-hosts of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, have become the sole bidders left for the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup after Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia withdrew.

Both Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia have strong AFC hosting credentials and ambitions. Uzbekistan has hosted a number of AFC age-group championships while Saudi Arabia (currently hosting the regional WAFF Women’s Championship), will host the 2027 Asian Cup.

Football Australia initially submitted its bid to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2022 and is engaged with local State and Federal governments to gain the necessary support.

Those commitments have been communicated to the AFC who could make a decision on the hosting rights as early as April.

Having successfully co-hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, and, according to research, seen the Matildas become Australia’s favourite sports team, Football Australia has been keen to ride that wave of success to bring more major football events to the country.

A potential bid for the 2034 men’s World Cup was shelved with the national association turning its focus to the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup. The country is also expected to bid for a future Club World Cup.

Earlier today Football Australia released its new ‘Legacy ’23’ report on the impact of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, showing that there has been A$1.32 billion of economic impact for Australia,

The report highlights 403,136 people attended across all seven sold out CommBank Matildas matches; there were 86,654 international visitors during the tournament period; and 1,288,175 total tickets sold for Australian matches.

The broadcast figure for the World Cup broke previous records with a reach of 11.15 million for the Semi Final, whilst the media value generated by the CommBanks Maltidas equated to A$2.78 billion.
With legacy and growing the game very much at the forefront of the hosting initiative, women and girls participation is reported to have increased from 21% to 26% since 2021, with the World Cup providing the catalyst for that boost.

With the report calling for support to keep the momentum of 2023 going, the report notes that more than 2,400 of Australia’s clubs are at full capacity growth highlighting a requirement for more facilities.

Football Australia said it is continuing to work with all levels of government to meet the needs of 1.7 million participants across Australia.

Football Australia said the Asian Cup represented “a crucial platform to advance the goals outlined in Legacy 23, particularly in addressing the shortfall in football facility investment”.

“Australia is ready, one of the most multicultural societies in the world, with over 300 different ancestries and almost 20% of our nation’s population having ties back to countries that comprise the Asian Football Confederation, meaning every team that visits our shores will have a ‘home away from home’ feeling,” the report said.

“This esteemed Asian football tournament provides an ideal platform for all tiers of government to employ football as a tool for effectively implementing sports diplomacy and tourism strategies within Asia.”

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