KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Saudi Arabia is now the only candidate to host the 2027 Asian Cup after India's soccer federation withdrew its bid on Monday.
Preparing for the month-long tournament can let Saudi Arabia show its soccer hosting ambitions to FIFA, which is seeking bidders for the 2030 World Cup and future editions of a revamped Club World Cup.
The Asian Football Confederation said the Saudi Arabian bid will be the only one presented to congress members for approval. That will be at a Feb. 1 meeting in Manama, Bahrain.
No reason was given for India's withdrawal, though the federation has been in turmoil and was briefly suspended by FIFA this year before staging the Under-17 Women's World Cup in October.
Saudi Arabia has never hosted the Asian Cup, which it has won three times since the inaugural event in 1956. The most recent title was in 1996.
Hosting the 2027 edition shaped to be a blockbuster contest when the Saudis, Qatar, Iran, India and Uzbekistan initially submitted bids more than two years ago.
World Cup host Qatar was awarded the 2023 edition in October after China handed back its hosting rights, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. That tournament is expected to be pushed back to January 2024.
The 2027 Asian Cup will become the fourth in five editions to be hosted in the Arabian Gulf region.
Qatar also hosted in 2011 and the United Arab Emirates staged the 2019 tournament.
Qatar, which is hosting the ongoing World Cup, has already staged the Asian Cup twice.
The Saudis started their World Cup campaign with a stunning 2-1 upset win over Argentina, but didn't advance to the knockout stages after back-to-back losses to Poland and Mexico in Group C.
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