By Paul Nicholson
June 21 – South Korea’s FA has formally announced it will bid for the 2023 Asian Cup and that it will meet the deadline for bid submissions of June 30.
The Koreans look likely to be up against Australia in their hosting bid – the Australians are co-hosts of the 2023 Women’s World Cup – but have expressed keen interest. Japan are also a potential host but while the Japanese FA told Insideworldfootball they are keen to promote a bid they are not sure they will have the government backing required to pull it off.
China was due to host the tournament in June and July next year but pulled out citing on-going issues with the pandemic and its zero-covid policy.
Earlier this month South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol mandated his sports minister to bid for the Asian Cup following a dinner meeting with players and officials before the country’s friendly match against Brazil.
On its website the Korea Football Association said it “is promoting the bid for the ‘2023 AFC Asian Cup’ hosted by the AFC in Korea.
“Therefore, we would like to proceed with the application for bid from local governments that have stadiums that can host international games, such as domestic soccer-only stadiums and general sports grounds.”
Bid criteria are that the host country must have at least five stadiums with a seating capacity of 20,000, while the stadium for the opening ceremony and the final must have a 40,000+ capacity.
South Korea won the first two editions of the Asian Cup in 1956 and 1960, beating Israel both times. They hosted in 1960 and despite joint hosting the 2002 World Cup, have not hosted the AFC’s expanded Asian Cup.
Australia hosted and won the Asian Cup in 2016. A bid for 2023 would likely stretch resource within the country of the timing clashes with the Women’s World Cup. The government has left the decision to bid with the Australian federation.
The AFC expanded the Asian Cup to 24 teams in the UAE in 2019. That tournament was played in January and was as significant breakthrough for the AFC and its competition structure.
As part of a wider calendar reorganisation the AFC moved the competition to the summer, aligning with other confederation competitions. However, the summer months in the West Asian zone of Middle East in part are too hot to realistically complete a tournament running into July.
While Qatar and Saudi Arabia have the facilities to host, they are both bidding for the Asian Cup in 2027. Neither have confirmed they are prepared to bid for 2023 though both are watching carefully who comes forward with 2023 hosting ambition.
The ideal solution for 2023 would be a host in East Asia as that keeps up a principle of rotation of the tournament between the East and West zones, and keeps away from the hot summer of the Gulf states in July.
The final decision on who will host will be made on October 17, leaving the winning bid just eight months to prepare for the competition. With such a short timescale, the bid teams will have to show they have all the facilities from stadia to training facilities and hotel accommodation already in existence.
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