Football Australia proposes trio of AFC Women's Asian Cup 2026™ host cities. FOOTBALL AUSTRALIA

New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia's positive experience of hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023 has served as an endorsement for their bid to host the competition. In Australia, the aim is to use the event as a catalyst for the growth of the game in the country. The official host cities will be announced in May.

Football Australia has announced that the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2026™ will be staged in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. The confirmation of Australia's candidacy, backed by a recommendation from the AFC Women's Football Committee in March, underlines the country's status as the sole bidder for the event. The final award of the hosting rights will be subject to ratification by the AFC Executive Committee in May.

The organisation of the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023™, which was won by Spain, demonstrated the importance of such an event in terms of its impact on the sport and the opportunities it brings to the country. This new proposal aims to maintain and potentially increase the economic and social impact of major women's football events. According to Football Australia, the tournament is expected to generate up to $260 million in economic output. It will also create more than 1,000 jobs.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson said: "We have a unique opportunity to continue the dynamic growth and popularity of women's football in Australia by hosting the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2026™. Last year's FIFA Women's World Cup™ laid a solid foundation. We look forward to building on this legacy to further enhance our football landscape both nationally and regionally. 

Johnson also emphasised the importance of government support: "Support from all levels of government is vital as we tackle the increase in participation and the urgent need for improved facilities. In order to maintain the momentum and ensure the continued development of the sport across the country, this support is vital."

A welcome initiative to facilitate the growth of the sport is the Federal Government's 'Play Our Way' grants program. Johnson cited the success of Australia's national teams, including the Subway Socceroos and CommBank Matildas, which has led to an increase in football participation across the country, with an overall increase of 12 per cent in 2023 and an impressive 20 per cent increase so far in 2024. The aim is to use the AFC Women's Asian Cup™ as a platform to further increase participation and develop the sport. This will be linked to upcoming international events such as the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

There have been discussions on the selection of host cities and there is a desire for participation from all regions of Australia, even those not included in the shortlist. Football Australia is looking to build on the legacy left by the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™. Discussions with the AFC will take place in due course to confirm the 2026 tournament dates.