UAE launches bid to stage Asian Cup in 2019

The UAE Football Association will compete against six other nations in an effort to stage teh tournament when it returns to west Asia.

Supporters of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wave scarfs prior the start of the Gulf Cup's final football match between UAE and Iraq on January 18, 2013 in Manama. Marwan Naamani / AFP
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DUBAI // Buoyed by the success of their golden generation of football players at the Gulf Cup last month, the UAE Football Association have made a formal bid to host the 2019 Asian Cup.

The FA sent in their papers to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on the final day of accepting bids and they will be competing against six nations – Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Iran - to host the continent’s premier tournament six years from now.

With Australia hosting the 2015 Asian Cup, it is the turn of west Asia to host the tournament in 2019 and Yousuf Abdullah, the general secretary of the FA, is confident UAE can bag the rights to host the tournament for the second time, after the 1996 event, given their experience of hosting major football tournament.

“We already have some of the best footballing facilities and we have shown our organisational abilities through the successful hosting of international tournaments in the past like the Youth World Cup and the Club World Cup,” Abdullah said.

“Those tournaments proved to those in charge of the game at the continental and global level that the UAE has all the qualifications needed to stage big tournaments successfully. So we are expecting to receive the honour of hosting the 2019 Asian Cup due to the confidence of the other Asian countries in our abilities.

”The UAE will be working with these “friendly” Asian countries and their governments to garner support for their bid in the coming days as they prepare their presentation files, which need to be submitted to the AFC before May 1.

Abdullah said the FA will be setting up special committees soon to start working on their bid presentation. After receiving the bid papers, the AFC will organise a workshop for bidding countries on July 17 and the inspection of infrastructure and facilities will be held from October to December.

The bidding countries will then be given time till May, 2014, to prepare their final brochure and the winning bid will be announced two months later at the AFC general assembly.

The UAE were runners-up when they hosted the tournament in 1996, losing to Saudi Arabia on penalties in the final. That is their best finish on the continental stage, but Abdullah is confident Mahdi Ali’s current generation of stars could improve on that performance at home should the UAE win the 2019 bid.

“If we are successful in winning the honor of hosting the 2019 Asian Cup, it will be a great opportunity for this current generation to win the country’s first Asian title and achieve another milestone in UAE football,” Abdullah said.

“We are very confident in the abilities of this generation and this bid for the 2019 Asian Cup is an effort to support this team, who have made a successful start on the senior stage with the Gulf Cup title.”