Saudi Arabia has officially launched its campaign, including a bid logo and slogan, to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup ©SAFF

Saudi Arabia has officially launched its campaign to host the 2027 Asian Cup, the continent’s flagship football tournament, with a bid logo and slogan.

The oil-rich country on the Arabian Peninsula has won the Asian Cup three times but has never staged the tournament, first held in Hong Kong in 1956. 

Successfully hosting the Asian Cup is seen as a key sporting objective of “Vision 2030”, the strategic framework launched by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors, including recreation and tourism.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) unveiled details of its bid, including the slogan "Forward for Asia", at a special event in Jeddah held at precisely 20:27 local time tonight. 

"As we in Saudi Arabia undertake our own transformation forward through our national Vision 2030, we want to use our long-standing passion for football as a catalyst for the continued growth of football across Asia," the SAFF President Yasser Almisehal said.

"Our vision for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup is to build much more than a tournament.

"We want to create a massive move forward for all of Asia, one that is focused on creating a new experience, a new exchange and a new expansion.

"We look forward to sharing our ideas with the entire Asian football family in the coming months."

The Saudi 2027 bid logo represents the combination of three elements, the golden falcon, football and wings, the SAFF revealed.

The golden falcon is Saudi Arabia’s national bird and integrates with the wings to symbolise partnership and moving forward, a combination signifying “boldness, strength and commitment of the Kingdom to Asian football”, it is claimed.

Saudi Arabia is one of five countries who last month submitted bid documents to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to host the tournament, along with India, Iran, Qatar and Uzbekistan.

Like Saudi Arabia, India and Uzbekistan have never staged the Asian Cup before.

Iran has hosted it twice, the last time in 1976.

Qatar have also staged the Asian Cup twice, in 1998 and 2011, and is set to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 in a series of new state-of-the-art stadiums.

An added element to this bid process is the ongoing political tension between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia are part of an Arab coalition which has imposed a three-year blockade of Qatar after severing diplomatic and transport ties with the country and accusing it of supporting "terrorism", which authorities in Doha deny.

The Sport and Rights Alliance has called on the AFC to include non-negotiable and binding standards on core labour, anti-corruption and human rights in the bidding procedure and hosting agreement for the event, with all five of the bidding nations coming under fire for human-rights abuses.

The next stage of the process is for the national bodies to submit a letter of undertaking to meet the AFC's requirements list, the deadline for which is October 30.

A final decision on who hosts the 19th edition of the Asian Cup is due to be announced next year. 

Saudi Arabia has won the Asian Cup three times, the last time in the United Arab Emirates in 1996, with a victory over the hosts 4-2 in a penalty shootout in Abu Dhabi ©AFC
Saudi Arabia has won the Asian Cup three times, the last time in the United Arab Emirates in 1996, with a victory over the hosts 4-2 in a penalty shootout in Abu Dhabi ©AFC

The next edition of the tournament, in 2023, is due to take place in China, featuring a record 24 countries playing matches in 10 host cities.

The reigning Asian Cup champions are Qatar, who beat Japan in last year's final in the United Arab Emirates.

"The Saudi Arabian Football Association is not only committed to hosting an exceptional AFC Asian Cup in 2027, but we are also committed to creating a strong impact across Asian football as part of organising the tournament here in Saudi Arabia," SAFF general secretary Ibrahim Alkassim said.

"Bringing the AFC Asian Cup to Saudi Arabia for the first-time ever, is the unique opportunity to carry forward the momentum of football in our region and across Asia.

"We are committed to making a 2027 Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia a huge step forward for all AFC Member Associations."