23 Mar 2021

Saudi 2027 reveals the first of a series of innovative projects for an AFC Asian Cup 2027 in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – 23rd March 2021 – The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) today provided a first glimpse of the many ambitious and innovative plans it has for its bid to host the AFC Asian Cup in the Kingdom for the first time ever in 2027.

Based on the Saudi 2027 vision to offer a “New Experience, New Exchange and New Expansion” for Asian football, SAFF today unveiled the ambition to use the momentum created from the bid to host AFC Asian Cup 2027 in Saudi Arabia to initiate a comprehensive women’s football development programme beginning as early as 2021. This would tie in perfectly with the recent launch of Saudi Arabia’s first ever women’s football league last year. With the individual elements of the programme currently being detailed, and due to be launched in full should Saudi Arabia be successful in its bid to host, the ambition of SAFF is to roll out the various activities not only across the Kingdom, but also to open up for women’s football development opportunities to the Gulf region and ultimately across Asia.

A key component of the new women’s football development programme, an area highlighted in the Saudi 2027 bid book, will be a focus on encouraging girls to start playing football and to gradually increase the level of youth teams over the coming five years in order for Saudi Arabia as well as neighboring counties to be competitive on international level. A core element in this long-term ambition will be the newly opened Mahd Sports Academy, which was launched in September by the Saudi Minister of Sport, HH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal and with the congratulations of FIFA President Gianni Infantino. The Mahd Sports Academy is set to become one of the largest sporting academies in the world over the next decade and the development of girl’s football will be a priority in the coming years.

SAFF Secretary General Mr. Ibrahim Alkassim said, “Already now we feel the passion across the Kingdom for our vision to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027. Should our dream become true later this year, we can only try to imagine the excitement and energy this will create. We must, therefore, use this momentum to make a very timely move forward for women’s football. Our research shows that of the more than five million passionate football fans here in Saudi Arabia, 33% are female and their share is growing. They deserve our full attention, and today’s announcement of our new ambition for women’s football will hopefully send an encouraging message to all.”

SAFF Board Member and Ministry of Sports Planning and Development Deputy, Mrs. Adwa Alarifi followed by saying, “As we in Saudi Arabia undertake our own transformation through our national Vision 2030, we want to use our long-standing passion for football to make sure that women and girls across our country can get involved and enjoy the game. We are just at the beginning of this development, but we have an ambitious agenda and the hosting of an AFC Asian Cup in 2027 would provide a fantastic opportunity to accelerate our plans for the future. Our message to the new generation of female players is clear: go girls!”

SAFF has a long and successful football history, having won the AFC Asian Cup three times and qualified for the FIFA World Cup five times, but has now until never hosted the AFC Asian Cup. For more information about Saudi 2027, please go to the website: or email Please also follow the bid on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.