Following the withdrawal of the bid on Monday by the All India Football Federation, (AIFF) Saudi Arabia is now the only candidate to host the 2027 Asian Cup.
Preparing for the month-long tournament can let Saudi Arabia show its football hosting ambitions and credentials to FIFA, as the International governing body seeks bidders for the 2030 World Cup and future editions of a restructured Club World Cup.
“The Saudi Arabian bid will be the only one presented to congress members for approval. That will be at a February 1 meeting in Manama, Bahrain,” the Asian Football Confederation said.
The reason for India’s withdrawal is unknown, though the federation has been in turmoil and was briefly suspended by FIFA this year before conducting the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in October.
It is to be noted that Saudi Arabia has never hosted the Asian Cup. However, it has won the tournament thrice since the inaugural event in 1956. The Kingdom lifted its last title in 1996.
Saudi, Qatar, Iran, India and Uzbekistan initially submitted bids more than two years ago to host the tournament in 2027.
Qatar, currently hosting the FIFA World Cup was awarded the 2023 edition of the regional tournament in October after China backed out of hosting, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. That tournament is expected to be postponed to January 2024.
The 2027 Asian Cup will become the fourth in five editions to be hosted in the Arabian Gulf region.
Qatar also hosted the tournament in 2011 and the United Arab Emirates(UAE) conducted the 2019 tournament. Qatar, which is hosting the ongoing World Cup, has already staged the Asian Cup twice.
Saudi Arabia began their World Cup campaign with a stunning 2-1 upset win over Argentina but didn’t advance to the knockout stages after losing two games on the trot to Poland and Mexico in Group C.