South Korea challenges China as it names cities for 2023 Asian Cup bid

By Paul Nicholson

November 23 – South Korea has moved along its bid plans for hosting the 2023 Asian Cup by announcing the eight cities that will host matches if it wins the bid. South Korea is up against China and potentially India in the race for the hosting rights.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said eight cities — Suwon, Goyang, Hwaseong, Cheonan, Jeonju, Gwangju, Busan and Jeju — would host matches in the Asian Football Confederation’s most prestigious national team competition.

In 2019 the Asian Cup will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates and is the first time it has been expanded to 24 teams. The KFA is expected to submit its bid plans this year, with an AFC inspection visit taking place after the bid book is handed in and before the vote scheduled for May 2018.

South Korea last hosted the Asian Cup in 1960, joint hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2002 with Japan, and this year hosted the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The South Koreans will be up against a newly football ambitious China who had expressed an interest in hosting 2019 before opting for 2023. China has previously hosted the AFC Cup in 2004 when it lost to Japan in the final.

China is understood to have nominated Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Qingdao, Shenyang, Changsha, Ningbo and Luoyang as host cities.

Expressions of interest for the hosting had to be submitted by mid-March of this year.  Indonesia and Thailand put their countries forward but it looks as though their interest has since faded.

India, which has just completed its first hosting of a FIFA tournament with the U-17 World Cup, and wants to progress to hosting the U-20 event, is believed to have expressed an interest though it was not within the AFC deadlines set.

Since then the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been dogged by historic election controversy surrounding its president Praful Patel who was initially stripped by government of his position before being re-instatement pending a resolution to be worked out between the AIFF and the government sports ministry. These issues are likely to be prioritised over any further Indian international expansion.

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