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Qatar replaces China as host of 2023 Asian Cup

Featured image credit: Visit Qatar on Unsplash

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced that Qatar will stage the 2023 Asian Cup, while India and Saudi Arabia will contest hosting rights for the 2027 edition.

Qatar, which will stage the FIFA World Cup from November 20 to December 18, will replace China as host of the Asian Cup after the latter relinquished its rights in May amid the continuing challenges created by its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dates for Qatar’s Asian Cup have not been confirmed, but Qatar Football Association spokesman Ali Al Salat told the Reuters news agency that a proposal has been made for it to be held in early 2024 rather than the summer of 2023 to avoid the country’s high temperatures.

In July, the AFC confirmed that it had received expressions of interest from Qatar, Australia, Indonesia and South Korea to stage the Asian Cup. Football Australia withdrew from the bidding process on September 1.

Al Salat told Reuters that all of Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums are being proposed for use during the Asian Cup. Qatar last hosted the tournament in 2011 and won the most recent edition, which took place in 2019 in the United Arab Emirates.

AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “Qatar’s capabilities and track record in hosting major international sporting events and their meticulous attention to detail are well admired throughout the globe.

“I must also commend the AFC for showcasing utmost professionalism in conducting a fair and transparent expedited bidding process and I thank all our commercial partners and sponsors for their patience during these unprecedented times.

“Given the short lead time in preparation, we know that the hard work begins immediately but with their existing world-class infrastructure and unrivalled hosting capabilities, we are confident that Qatar will stage a worthy spectacle befitting the prestige and stature of Asia’s crown jewel.”

Meanwhile, the AFC has shortlisted India and Saudi Arabia as the final two bidders for the 2027 Asian Cup, with the host country to be announced in February. India and Saudi Arabia are the final two countries in the running after Uzbekistan withdrew its bid for the tournament back in December 2020, while Iran withdrew its proposal last week.