The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia officially announced that it plans to apply to host the 2026 AFC Women’s Asia Cup. The announcement comes after the Saudi Arabian government announced its plans to host a tournament’s second edition in 2020. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced Monday that Saudi Arabia, Australia, Jordan, and Uzbekistan had all submitted expressions of interest in hosting the 2026 Asian Women’s Cup.

It looks as though it may be coming earlier than expected, as the SAFF announced its intent on bidding on Monday, making Saudi Arabia one of the four nations, including Jordan, looking to host the 2026 AFC Women’s Asia Cup. SAFF chairman of the Board Yasser Al-Misehal said that the Federation’s application to host the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup Final came in part of an effort to take a new step forward for Saudi Arabia women’s soccer. The ambition of hosting the Women’s Asia Cup 2026 comes with a view of making new leaps in the realm of women’s soccer in the Kingdom, which has witnessed the start of this movement over the past few months. 

Soccer Australia last hosted the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2006, with the Matildas going on to claim their only title four years later in China, while Uzbekistan, the hosts of the current year AFC Women’s Club Championship (West), will seek to be the first Central Asian country to host the continents most prestigious women’s tournament on their second attempt. The inspirational Women’s Soccer Across Asia tournament will build toward the Saudi-hosted competition in 2026.

Perhaps the most significant announcement came when Germany manager Monika Staab was charged with managing a newly formed (2021) Saudi national women’s national team and overseeing development at every level across Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Leen Muhammad emerged as a star performer for the Saudi women’s futsal team (established in 2019), who hosted and finished runners-up at the 2022 Women’s Futsal Championships organised by the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF).

It was only in November 2021 when SAFF formally launched its Regional Football League, a sixteen-team competition with the eight best Saudi clubs primarily based out of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam qualify for a single-elimination domestic tournament at the beginning of January. Yasser bin Hassan Al Misehal indicated the Saudi FA would start to set up a special committee to look after the hosting dossier and introduce it under the flag of the honourable Kingdom to reach the desired objective. 

The Women’s National Football Team was founded in 2021 and participated in its first official international friendlies in a tournament in the Maldives in February of 2022. The proposal will focus on developing women’s football at the grassroots level. A competition sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2026 will be dedicated to inspiring women’s football throughout Asia. Saudi Arabia is dedicated to fostering the growth of women’s football to elevate the game, from players to coaches, fans to officials.