Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

UAE declares interest in joint bid for 2021 Fifa U20 World Cup with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain

Definitive bids to host the tournament must be submitted by August 30, with a decision on the winning bid expected later this year

A general view of Fifa Under 20 World Cup, which this year is being held in Poland. Fifa via Getty Images
A general view of Fifa Under 20 World Cup, which this year is being held in Poland. Fifa via Getty Images

The UAE has declared its interest in hosting with Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia and Bahrain the 2021 Under 20 Fifa World Cup.

The National understands the UAE Football Association, along with their Saudi and Bahrani counterparts, declared their interest before the deadline of May 23 to host the 23rd edition of the biannual tournament. The UAE has once previously hosted the tournament, in 2003, when it was known as the Fifa World Youth Championship.

According to guidelines on the Fifa website, all countries who registered an interest before the May 23 deadline were sent hosting documents and have until June 21 to reconfirm their interest by submitting the necessary paperwork.

Definitive bids to host the tournament must be submitted by August 30 with a decision on the winning bid expected later this year.

Should the joint Gulf bid be successful, it would mark the first time in the competition's history more than one country has hosted.

Saudi Arabia staged the 1989 U20 World Cup (then the Fifa World Youth Championship) when a young Portugal squad coached by former Real Madrid manager Carlos Queiroz and containing the likes of Paulo Sousa, Joao Pinto and Fernando Couto triumphed 2-0 over Nigeria in the final.

The UAE, in particular, has experience of hosting Fifa tournaments having held the last two editions of the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi - the event took place there also in 2009 and 2010 - as well as the 2003 World Youth Championship and the 2013 U17 World Cup. The Emirates staged this year's Asian Cup under the Asian Football Confederation's banner.

The tournament, Fifa's second oldest competition, has featured several global superstars including Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Mohamed Salah.

This year's tournament gets under way in Poland on Thursday.

News of the joint UAE/Saudi/Bahrain bid comes a day after Fifa shelved a proposed expansion of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams.

Updated: May 24, 2019 01:55 AM

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