Riyadh:– Marking a key moment in sporting history for Saudi Arabia, today the Kingdom has submitted its bid to host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026™.
A football nation, with a deep-rooted passion for the game, Saudi Arabia’s move to bid for the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup™ builds on its expression of interest earlier this year and exemplifies the nation’s efforts to unlock untapped potential and opportunities for women and girls across Asia. In the event of a successful bid to host the competition, Saudi Arabia will play a vital role in advancing women’s leadership in sport at home and abroad.
The AFC representatives welcomed the SAFF delegation commissioned to deliver the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026 bidding documents today at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was represented by Dona Rajab, the first assistant coach of the Saudi Arabian women’s national football team, Raghad Helmi, a professional player and a member of the Saudi Arabian national team and Al Shabab Club, and Marya Baghaffar, the youngest of the delegates at 14 years of age is a youth player training at the Regional Training Center. The regional training centers are considered one of SAFF’s important channels to develop talented youth and promote women’s participation.
Mr. Yasser Almisehal, President of SAFF, commented: "The future of women's football in Saudi Arabia is bright and we are committed to growing the game here and throughout Asia. More and more young girls are playing football in this country and we want to inspire them further. Hosting the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2026TM would be a great occasion for our players and would be made memorable by the passion of our fans."
Monika Staab, manager of the Saudi Arabian women’s national team, added: “This is an opportunity to bring the tournament to life, inspire a generation, and turbo-charge the continued growth of women’s football. We see this as a chance to improve technical performance and show the world our homegrown talent.”
Saudi Arabia has embraced transformation at pace, and growing women’s leadership in sport is a crucial element. In the last three years, there has been significant investment in grassroots player development, competitions, coaching and more, including establishing the first women’s national team last year, followed by the inaugural women’s football league and girls’ school league.
As an emerging women’s football market, the Kingdom is set to experience an outsized impact in developing the game through bidding to host the event. Extending an invitation to the region and the world to witness its development, experience its welcoming society, culture and heritage, creates a platform to bring the best female footballers from Asia, showcase their skills, and inspire women and girls to become the next generation of players.
About Saudi Arabia Football Federation
Established in 1956, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) is a member of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and the governing body for football in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responsible for overseeing grassroots development and all aspects of the amateur and professional game.
SAFF is in charge of elevating Saudi football to new heights, offering new opportunities across the ecosystem and inspiring the nation to participate and become an influential force for good within world football. SAFF currently administers 17 competitions for a total of 600+ teams across various age groups, most notably the annual King’s Cup and Saudi Super Cup.
SAFF manages nine national teams ranging from the U-15 age group all the way to the first team, all of which compete in 23 regional and international competitions. As part of its significant investment in women’s football, it recently established the first women’s national team and league. It is responsible for the development and upskilling of over 3,000 national coaches and 1,700 referees across the Kingdom.