The United Arab Emirates has won a unanimous vote to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has confirmed.
AFC President, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, said:
I would like to congratulate the UAE Football Association on their successful bid to host the AFC Asian Cup 2019. The AFC Executive Committee was convinced by the merits of the UAE bid.
I firmly believe that the UAE Football Association will host a tournament that could match and potentially even surpass the stunning AFC Asian Cup 2015 in Australia that we have all just witnessed.
The announcement of the Emratis’ winning bid came after a meeting of the AFC executive committee in Manama, Bahrain.
The UAE and Iran had been in competition to organise the tournament.
It will be the second time that the UAE has organised the continent’s showcase tournament, having previously staged it in 1996, when the hosts lost a penalty shootout in the final to Saudi Arabia.
The UAE bid proposed to organise the tournament in three cities: Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al-Ain – which all have stadiums capable of hosting such an event – and also promised to build a new 25,000-capacity stadium in Dubai.
The bid document proposed the host stadiums to be: Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium and Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi; Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium and Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain; Dubai International Cricket Stadium and the proposed new 25,000-capacity stadium in Dubai.
The expanded 2019 instalment of the tournament will see 24 teams competing instead of the usual 16.
Image: Concept design image of “Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hazza_Bin_Zayed_Stadium.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hazza_Bin_Zayed_Stadium.jpg