London: Saudi Arabia women may be a long way away from qualifying for the women’s World Cup, but a more realistic aim would be to host the tournament in the future, the country’s technical director of the women’s game Monika Staab said.
Staab, who had stints as a player in her native Germany, France and England, was the first coach of the newly set up Saudi Arabia women’s football team in 2021 before moving to her current role in February.
The team played their first games in February 2022 and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) board member Lamia bin Bahian stated the goal was for the side to be a participant at the World Cup within 10 years.
Staab, 64, said that may take longer but that a quicker route could be to play in the tournament as the host nation.
“I told them that something takes time. It’s like a little baby, it needs to stand up, it needs to learn how to walk... So we’re talking about at least 10 years development and they’re going at a very fast speed,” the German said at the International Sports Convention in London.
“I’m not sure now anymore if it will really happen in 10 years, I told them 2035 could be a realistic aim, because we started in 2021... I think that for me it is more realistic to maybe host the Women’s World Cup in Saudi Arabia.”
The hosts for the women’s World Cup usually get a short amount of time to prepare, with the 2027 host nation set to be appointed by FIFA in May next year.
Saudi Arabia are already bidding to host the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup which is due to be decided this month.
It is part of a wider strategy of the Gulf nation to host huge sporting events. Saudi Arabia will host the men’s Club World Cup later this year, having already hosted the men’s Spanish Super Cup and events in Formula One and boxing.