3 min read

Australia Poised to host 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup as rivals withdraw


Australia is set to become the host nation for the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup after competitors withdrew from the bidding process.

Reports indicate that Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia have opted out of hosting the tournament, clearing the path for Australia – the sole contender remaining – to secure the rights pending the official approval from the Asian Football Confederation’s Congress. It is anticipated that Australia will be awarded the hosting rights by April 2024, subject to meeting financial requirements and securing host cities.

Among four initial contenders including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan, Australia emerged as a strong candidate to host the tournament. Football Australia initiated its bid for the Women’s Asian Cup in 2022, engaging in discussions with state and federal governments to garner support over the past 18 months.

This opportunity marks Australia’s potential to host its second major international tournament in three years, following the runaway success of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. Football Australia recently released its Legacy 23 report, highlighting the economic impact of AU$1.32 billion generated by the Women’s World Cup.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup was a testament to Australia’s capability to host globally significant tournaments,” said James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia.

“The sporting, economic and societal benefits which the tournament generated, not just to football, but to other sports as well as broader Australian society, are now there for all to see in the post-tournament report.

“To continue this trajectory, we aim to secure the hosting rights for the AFC Asian Cup 2026, which will require government support at all levels. We believe that this will once again be a huge value-generator for Australia and another boost to the ongoing growth of Australian football and more broadly throughout Asia and the Oceania region.

“These successes have seen a dramatic increase in women’s participation in football which is adding more pressure on the need for government investment, at all levels, to close the $2.9 billion gap in facility investment across Australia.

“We are encouraged by the Federal Government’s $200 million Play Our Way grant program, which was inspired by the CommBank Matildas at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup to address the growing facilities gap in our community following strong and continued growth in participation.”

Australia has been a dominant force in the tournament, winning it 2010 and reaching the final in 2006 (as hosts), 2014 and 2018. The Matildas topped their group at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India with 24 goals scored and just one conceded in three matches, but they were eliminated by South Korea in the Round of 16.

Football Australia has also announced a new partnership with Nestle, focusing on developing youth soccer through the MiniRoos program. Nestle’s iconic powdered malt drink brand Milo will officially partner with Football Australia, adding to the governing body’s list of sponsors, which includes global sportswear giant Nike.

Nike recently renewed its partnership with Football Australia for another decade.

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