(Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates have submitted a bid to host the expanded 2019 Asian Cup, the Asian Football Confederation has said, with competition expected to come from Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Friday is the deadline for countries to submit their proposals to host the tournament for Asia’s best 24 international sides, which expands from 16 after next year’s event in Australia.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iran had all previously stated their intentions to host the Asian showpiece, which was previously held in Qatar in 2011.
“We are honoured to have this opportunity to personally come to AFC House to hand over our bid book for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on behalf of the UAE Football Association,” UAE FA Acting General Secretary Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri said in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
“Our nation has been hosting many international sporting events and also football competitions and we are looking forward to being the venue for this high-profile tournament.”
Eleven nations, including China, Bahrain and Kuwait, had originally shown interest in staging the event, a marked improvement on the bidding process for the 2015 tournament where Australia were the sole applicants and then allowed extensions to get their proposal together.
The host is expected to be announced by the AFC later this year.
Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Greg Stutchbury