Women’s Asian Cup coming Down Under in 2026

Less than a year on from staging a record-setting Women’s World Cup, Australia is almost certain to be awarded hosting rights to the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) recommended it as its preferred bidder for the tournament.

Alongside its recommendation that the Uzbekistan Football Association be awarded the right to organise the 2029 iteration, the confederation’s Women’s Football Committee said in a statement on Friday evening that it “mandated the AFC administration to confirm the award of the hosting rights once all requirements are met.”

With Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Uzbeks having withdrawn their candidacies for 2026 — the latter the lone bidders for the 2029 edition — ratification by the AFC’s Executive Committee for the tournament to head Down Under is expected to be a formality.

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“The Women’s World Cup that was co-hosted in Australia last year set new benchmarks and is widely regarded as the best edition in history, showcasing once again the strength of women’s football in Asia,” said Women’s Football Committee chair Kanya Keomany.

“Australia presents the opportunities to build on the commercial appeal of the competition and engage with more fans than ever before, so I am confident that Football Australia will stage a memorable spectacle that will not only elevate the women’s game but also set the standard for future editions of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.”

Australia previously staged the 2006 iteration of the Asian Cup, the same year it formally switched from Oceania to the Asian Confederation. Back then, fixtures were staged at Adelaide’s 16,500-capacity Hindmarsh Stadium and the 6,000-capacity Marden Sports Complex, with the largest attendance coming in the final, when 5,000 people watched the Matildas fall to China in a penalty shootout.

20 years on, however, the tournament will be significantly larger in scale; the 2023 Women’s World Cup staged across Australia and New Zealand seeing just under 2 million fans attend fixtures across its length, well up on the 1.5 million target set by FIFA.

“We are thrilled to be recommended as the host for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026,” said Football Australia chief executive James Johnson. “This recognition reflects the tireless efforts and commitment of everyone involved in women’s football throughout Australia.

“We are committed to working with the AFC to satisfy the remaining requirements and delivering an outstanding tournament that will further enhance the women’s game and create a lasting legacy for future generations.”

Widely considered Australia’s favourite sporting team thanks to the success of the Women’s World Cup, the Matildas are on track to sell out the 53,500-capacity Adelaide Oval and 83,500-capacity Stadium Australia in Sydney when they play their last game on home soil before the Paris Olympics against China in late May and early June – the 13th and 14th straight times they will have sold out a game on home soil.

Their loss to England in the semifinals of the 2023 World Cup, meanwhile, became the most-viewed television show on record in the nation, drawing nearly 11.15 million viewers at its peak and an average audience of 7.13 million.

With Matildas fixtures and the major knockout fixtures therefore likely to be in high demand, Football Australia has already stated that it will be seeking support from federal and state governments to host the event.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup had a profound impact, not just on women’s football or women’s sports generally, but also on broader Australian society,” said Johnson.

“It put Australia on the global football map and cemented our reputation as an excellent host of global football competitions.

“We are confident that hosting another global event like the AFC Women’s Asian Cup will have a similarly positive impact for Australians, the AFC and for women’s football in Asia.”

Uzbekistan, meanwhile, will become the first Central Asian nation to host a women’s Asian Cup when it stages the event in 2029.

It will also mark the first major senior tournament the nation has hosted, it currently in the process of staging the U20 Women’s Asian Cup — in which Japan and North Korea will face off in the final on Sunday — after previously organising the men’s U20 Asian Cup, the men’s U23 Asian Cup.