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UAE announces bid for 2019 AFC Asian Cup

James Jose (james@khaleejtimes.com)
Filed on March 11, 2014

The UAE, who previously hosted the Asian Cup in 1996, will be one of the four candidates in contention to host the Asian competition in 2019. The others are Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

officials announce UAE's Asian Cup bid. — KT photo by Nezar Balout

officials announce UAE's Asian Cup bid. — KT photo by Nezar Balout

The UAE will be bidding to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, the UAE Football Association (UAEFA) and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) said on Monday.

The UAE, who previously hosted the Asian Cup in 1996, will be one of the four candidates in contention to host the Asian competition in 2019. The others are Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The UAE have previously hosted five Fifa competitions over the past 10 years — the AFC Asian Cup in 1996, the Under-20 World Cup, the Fifa Club World Cup twice and more recently the Fifa Under-17 World Cup.

An eight-member AFC delegation, headed by Dr Tran Quoc Tuan, arrived on a three-day visit of the UAE and visited the three venues — Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain. They inspected the venues, training sites, hotels and transportation in Abu Dhabi before travelling to Dubai. They rounded off their stay with a visit to Al Ain on Monday before holding a Press conference.

The AFC delegation will receive bid books from the four countries and an Executive Committee will decide on the host city in November. The 2019 competition is most likely to have a change with 24 teams participating as against the present 16. At present, the delegation visited five stadiums in the UAE — Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium and Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, the new and state-of-the art Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain and the Dubai Sports City in Dubai.

The UAE will have two additional stadiums which are yet to be built. In total, there will be seven stadiums with one being on stand-by. A new 60,000-seater stadium will be built on Al Khail Road and the stand-by stadium will be built next to the Dubai Sports City. The two new stadiums will be completed by 2018.

Yousef Khouri, board member of the UAE FA said that they have had the experience of hosting world class events. “We have the experience of hosting events of such calibre before. We have hosted five FIFA tournaments starting from the Asian Cup in 1996, U-20 World Cup, two FIFA Club World Cups, and U-17 World Cup last year. So, we are confident of putting up a good show if we win the bid,” he said.

“We are a secure and safe destination compared to what is happening around the world. We are also doing well economically. We have people from more than 200 Nationalities who live here. The presence of expat population will also draw in a huge crowd. We believe we have a strong and solid case and we know that we can deliver.” Khouri added.

“By hosting such an event in the UAE, we want to enhance our experience. There is tremendous support from Their Highnesses, the Shaikhs and the Government. We have roped in an international firm to prepare and submit the bid book,” said Talal Al Hashemi, member of the Bid Committee, UAE FA and also a member of the ADSC.

“We are satisfied with the venues after inspection but there are three other countries also in the bidding. We will be visiting them soon and will give a report to the AFC Executive Committee,” said Dr. Tran Quoc Tuan, Head of the delegation, AFC.

Sin Man Gil, Director National Team Competitions said that they will visit Thailand at the beginning of April and will then travel to Saudi Arabia and Iran at the end of April. He added that an AFC delegation will make another inspection of the venues, if necessary.


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