Asian Cup extends its deadline over Coronavirus scare

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Asian Football Confederation (AFC) the continental soccer body, started inviting bids to stage the 19th edition of the quadrennial event after stating in December that it planned to appoint a host as soon as possible to allow for more preparation time.

Saudi Arabia’s bid, which was submitted by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), has the backing of the kingdom’s General Sports Authority (GSA), which has been the driving force behind the push to bring more major sporting events to the Middle Eastern country in recent times.

The SAFF said that its proposal highlights the international sporting events that have been held in Saudi Arabia over the past two years, which include Formula E races, European Tour golf tournaments and boxing’s world heavyweight title rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.

A number of rights holders have been criticised for staging their events in Saudi Arabia due to concerns over the kingdom’s human rights record and its attitude towards women, while the country is also accused of housing the BeoutQ piracy operation.

Commenting on the Saudi bid for the 2027 Asian Cup, SAFF president Yasser Al-Masiha said, “We have a rich record and great legacy of the Asian achievements of teams and clubs, as this artistic heritage will be completed by hosting the biggest championship in the continent.“We hope to present the bright reality of Saudi Arabia in hosting, with the unlimited support of our wise leadership, to continue the journey of hosting many international events in various fields in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia is the first country to publicly announce its intention to stage the 2027 Asian Cup, with the AFC expected to award the hosting rights for the event in early 2021.

If Saudi Arabia’s bid is successful, the tournament would join an event schedule that has recently added a Ladies European Tour (LET) golf tournament, the Dakar Rally and a five-stage cycling race set to debut this year. The AFC has already awarded the hosting rights for the 2023 Asian Cup, which is due to be held across ten cities in China.

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