By Paul Nicholson in Hong Kong
December 3 – The AFC is bringing forward the award of hosts for its 2027 Asian Cup, opening up a bid process for the confederation’s flagship tournament that will begin early 2020 with the hosts expected to be chosen in early 2021.
Increased to a 24-team tournament, the first expanded edition was held in the UAE in January and marked a big step forward for the event, both in terms of media, participation and organisational requirements.
In 2023 China will host with the 2027 tournament then moving back theoretically to West Asia with countries like Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and India all potential bidders. And of course Qatar who will then be five year beyond their World Cup hosting.
AFC president, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, emphasised that future AFC Asian Cups should be given more preparation time, with the 2027 hosts being appointed as soon as possible.
“At the AFC 29th Congress in Paris, we chose the People’s Republic of China as the next hosts of the AFC Asian Cup in 2023. And I know that China PR will deliver a world class event – in keeping with the stature of the AFC Asian Cup,” said Salman.
“But China PR has just four years in which to prepare – and although they are extremely capable – I would like to allow future hosts even more time. With the expanded format, which was launched in the UAE in 2019, we have 24 teams and 51 matches and so we need eight to ten world-class stadiums.
“The scale of the tournament now may mean some construction work, which of course takes planning and time. We need to develop the best facilities for players, fans and for our broadcast and commercial partners in line with the stature of the AFC Asian Cup as a world-class event.”
The decision over who will host the 2027 edition will be taken by the AFC’s 30-member executive committee.
The AFC is going through an expansion of its competitions having not only increased participation at the men’s and women’s Asian Cups but also increased participation in its club competitions.
“We want our competitions to be inclusive not exclusive,” said AFC general secretary Dato Windsor John. “It is the opportunity for development and it drives our member nations to work harder. Our top nations want to close the gap on Europe and South America and our other nations want to close the gap on them. With expanded competitions we are already seeing that happen.”
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