April 2 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has extended the deadline for expression of interest to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027. The new deadline is June 30, 2020.
In a statement the AFC said: “The decision was taken in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic to allow Member Associations, many of whom have been affected by the global outbreak, sufficient time to meet their internal processes and timelines.”
The AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, hosted in the UAE, saw an expansion of the competition from 16 to 24 teams and broke all TV viewing and digital records for the Asian showpiece. China are hosting the 2023 edition.
Saudi Arabia have submitted confirmation of their own intention to bid for a competition which in 2027 will, on the current principle of rotation, return to West Asia after China’s hosting in the East.
With the expanded tournament and increased delivery requirements, AFC president, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, emphasised in December when the decision to start the bid process was taken, 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. That decision had been expected to be made in 2021 but that may well also be pushed back.
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