As the oil-rich kingdom spends a lot of money on sports in an effort to improve its image. Saudi Arabia’s confirmation as host of the 2027 Asian Cup is a likely precursor to a World Cup bid.
Saudi Arabia hosted the Asian Cup on Wednesday, and it was the first major sporting event the kingdom would host.
At the Asian Football Confederation Congress in Bahrain. Which was held just weeks after Gulf neighbors Qatar hosted the first Middle East World Cup.
The successful bid of the three-time winners was merely a formality after their sole rival.
Following the announcement, the sports minister of the kingdom. Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, stated, “We are excited to deliver the greatest tournament in the competition’s history.”
Officials disclosed last year that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. Has held talks with Egypt and Greece regarding a joint World Cup bid for 2030.
The conservative nation has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in various transactions. Such as Al Nassr’s acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo. Jeddah’s participation in Formula One, and the lucrative LIV tour, has divided golf.
Which is the practice of shielding criticism of its human rights record by using sports.
Executions have skyrocketed under the current administration. According to a report released on Wednesday by Reprieve and the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights.
Prince Abdulaziz told AFP at the AFC Congress that there was no World Cup bid in the works. But he added Anything is conceivable.”
“It is evident that Saudi Arabia is a significant venue for events. Additionally, it is a component of our 2030 vision.” He said, alluding to the initiative to update the economy’s reliance on oil.
“We are now focusing on 2027 since we still need to create infrastructure and other things to match the Asian Cup’s requirements.
We will surely try to explore everything that will come our way that we regard as possible for the vision and plan that we have. We’ll hopefully then wait and see what transpires.”
Saudi Arabia’s growing roster of major events now includes the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026. The Asian Games in 2034, and even the artificial snow Asian Winter Games in 2029.
At the Manama Congress, FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated, “I’m sure Saudi Arabia will host a fantastic Asian Cup.”
The 2023 Asian Cup, which will be hosted by the defending champions Qatar following China’s withdrawal due to the Covid crisis, has not been scheduled.