AFC extends bid deadline for 2023 Asian Cup to mid-July

By Samindra Kunti

June 28 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has extended the deadline for bids to stage the 2023 Asian Cup from end June to mid-July, following the withdrawal of China from hosting the tournament because of the country’s Covid-19 policy.

The Chinese had been scheduled to host the tournament next year in June and July.  The decision has left the AFC scrambling to find a new host for its flagship tournament that was expanded to 24 teams with great success in 2019.

Last week, South Korea said that they will bid for the finals while Australia were reportedly mulling over entering the race despite co-hosting the Women’s World Cup next year. Japan are also keen, but the JFA may not enjoy the backing of its government and also expressed concerns over the short timeline to organise the tournament.

The South Koreans have not hosted the tournament since 1960 and Australia last staged it in 2015.

The AFC is already undergoing a bidding process to find a host for the Asian Cup 2027, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and India the main bid contenders, though Iran have also submitted a bid.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are currently favourites to host the Asian Cup in 2027 but the issue would be playing the tournament in the middle of their summer, even though stadiums can be cooled. There is also the consideration of rotating the Asian Cup around the vast AFC region. The 2019 Asian Cup was held in the UAE in the West zone. Awarding rights for 2023 and 2027 would mean that the East zone would not have hosted since 2007 when it was costed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam (though Australia plays as an East Zone nation).

India, whose national federation is undergoing its own constitutional crisis, for that reason would likely be ruled out of any 2023 hosting scenario, though the Indians are hosting the U17 Women’s World Cup in October this year.

In its statement the AFC said it “has extended the deadline to receive Expressions of Interest (EoI) from the AFC Member Associations (MAs) to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023 from the original date of June 30, 2022, to July 15, 2022.”

It will no longer be the AFC congress that will pick the 2023 hosts. Instead, the final decision will lie with the governing body’s executive committee.

Three years ago, the AFC expanded its flagship tournament to 24 teams. 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.  The hosting rights will be awarded on October 17.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1660099509labto1660099509ofdlr1660099509owedi1660099509sni@i1660099509tnuk.1660099509ardni1660099509mas1660099509


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