Saudi Arabia has announced it will host the 2024 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Women’s Championship later this month.
The Saudi Arabian tournament will make it the first championship 11-a-side women’s tournament to be held in the Kingdom. History will also be made by Saudi’s women’s team, with the tournament marking the team’s first ever appearance in the competition.
In addition to these historical moments, the tournament formally marks the first competitive game in the history of Saudi Arabian Women’s football, having previously only organised and played in friendly matches and tournaments.
Lamia Bahaian, Vice President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be hosting the WAFF Women’s Championship. Looking ahead to what promises to be a brilliant tournament, we’re especially excited about the impact this will have in terms of inspiring women and young girls across the Kingdom while supporting women’s football development nationally and regionally.
“The individual and collective success of our domestic leagues, together with our success in hosting two editions of the SAFF Women’s Friendly Tournament and the 2022 WAFF Futsal Championship, shows that the foundations are in place for us to take the next big step in our journey. This means hosting an official 11-a-side competition.
“We’re excited to welcome members of the wider football ecosystem together for an incredible event – one that’s certain to showcase the full power of football as a force for good and a platform for turning dreams into reality.”
Dean Akinjobi, CEO of Football Media, spoke to Insider Sport last year about the growth of sport in Saudi Arabia. In the interview, Akinjobi predicted the growth of sport in general and that football “will be a key driver of this”.
The host nation will compete against teams such as Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and two guests – Guam and Nepal, with the competition set to kick off on 19 February in Jeddah.
In terms of formatting, the WAFF will begin with two groups of four, followed by the semi-finals and final, playing matches at the King Abdullah Sports City and Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Sports City stadiums.
Saudi’s team will be led by new coach Lluis Cortes, the former FC Barcelona Femeni coach that won a treble in 2021.
Khalil Al Salem, WAFF General Secretary, commented: “For WAFF, our mission has always been to promote football development by various means – including by organising championships across territories and paving the way for countries to compete and fans to become inspired. This announcement is the latest testament that our direction of travel is positive.
“There is no doubt that this tournament will witness high-level competition and exceptional organisation, building on the Saudi Arabian Football Federation’s successful track record in hosting football tournaments at various levels.”