November 16 – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India, Iran and Uzbekistan will move into the next stage of the bidding race for the 2027 Asian Cup after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) received the necessary Letter of Undertaking from all five countries.
The Asian Cup is the AFC’s blue riband national team event having successfully expanded its format to a 24-team finals in 2019.
The geographical scale of the AFC’s member nation footprint provided a diverse field of countries and competitive football styles. The diversity is reflected in the bidding race, with geopolitical undertones never far away as both Saudi Arabia and Qatar go head-to-head for the hosting rights. The Saudi kingdom and the gulf Emirate are also involved in a bidding war for the 2030 Asian games.
The AFC will pick a winning bid in 2021. That decision was scheduled to be announced at the AFC’s Congress in June, though Congress dates have not been confirmed.
With China in the East, hosting the next finals in 2023, the AFC’s West region would be favourite to host a return of the tournament after the UAE in 2019, if the tradition of switching between east and west is continued. However, the emergence of India and Uzbekistan provide credible alternatives to the conventional east/west rotation.
In the next phase of bidding the five nations have to supply documents that underwrite their bids substantially. The AFC wrote in a statement: “…The BMAs will subsequently be required to submit their respective Bid Books, the Host City Agreements, the Host City Declarations, Stadium Agreements, and Official Training Site Agreements to the AFC by December 18, 2020.”
Last December, the Asian governing body had opened the bidding process for the 2027 continental finals with the intention of appointing a host nation as soon as possible. At the time, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa emphasised that host countries should be given more time to organise and, where necessary, build infrastructure.
India, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan have never hosted the continent’s flagship tournament. Qatar last staged the Asian Cup in 2011. Iran organised the finals in both 1968 and 1976. The Iranians are considered outsiders for the hosting rights, but the country, one of Asia’s traditional footballing powerhouses, has a strong tradition in the Asian Cup.
The United Arab Emirates staged the 2019 edition, the first Asian finals to include 24 teams with Qatar winning a maiden crown.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1606273508labto1606273508ofdlr1606273508owedi1606273508sni@o1606273508fni1606273508