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Asia

Lusail Stadium absent as venues named for Qatar’s Asian Cup

Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar

Featured image credit: Kabhi2011/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar

Featured image credit: Kabhi2011/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has today (Wednesday) confirmed the dates and venues for Qatar’s staging of the 2023 Asian Cup, with Lusail Stadium missing from the six 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia chosen for the showpiece tournament.

The AFC and Local Organising Committee (LOC) have chosen eight stadia in total for the national team event, six of which were venues for the World Cup, namely: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Education City Stadium and Khalifa International Stadium.

Lusail Stadium, the centrepiece of Qatar 2022, has not been included, along with Stadium 974, the venue which is due to be dismantled following last year’s World Cup. The other two venues for the Asian Cup will be Jassim bin Hamad Stadium and Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.

Although officially the 2023 Asian Cup, the dates have been shifted from mid-2023 to January 12 to February 10, 2024, in an effort to avoid the heat of the Gulf summer. The tournament will also be held across 30 days, two more than the 28-day 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates, with the AFC stating this is part of efforts to enhance the experience for fans as well as the stature and commercial value of the competition.

AFC president, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, said: “We know that the Local Organising Committee and the Qatar Football Association will stage a true spectacle never before experienced in Asian football history.

“Already, we have witnessed the QFA and the Qatari Authorities organise the best-ever FIFA World Cup in the history of the modern game, and we have every faith that they will showcase their unrivalled hosting capabilities, state-of-the-art infrastructure and warm hospitality well admired throughout the world for the benefit of our teams, players and passionate fans.

“We praise them for their dedication and commitment, and we are delighted to confirm the competition dates and venues, which represents an important milestone in our ambitions to provide the ultimate stage for our teams and players to shine.”

In October, the AFC announced that Qatar would 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. Qatar last hosted the tournament in 2011 and won the most recent edition in the UAE.

Saudi Arabia further strengthened its position in the football market in February after it was confirmed as host of the 2027 Asian Cup.

The decision by Asian Football Confederation member associations at the AFC Congress in Manama, Bahrain came after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in December withdrew its bid to stage the tournament.