Asia

Qatar sets Asian Cup attendance record with 11 games to spare

Featured image credit: Visit Qatar on Unsplash

Featured image credit: Visit Qatar on Unsplash

The ongoing Asian Cup in Qatar has set a new total attendance record for the tournament with 11 matches still to be played.

After 63,753 fans attended the last-16 match between Qatar and Palestine at Al Bayt Stadium yesterday (Monday), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) revealed that the total attendance has reached the 1.06 million mark.

This surpasses the previous record of 1.04 million, which was set when China hosted the tournament in 2004. The figure is set to increase further as there are four more last-16 matches still to be played, before the quarter-finals, semi-final and final.

The average match attendance so far is 26,672. The opening match between Qatar and Lebanon at Lusail Stadium (pictured) was watched by 82,490 fans, a new record for an Asian Cup opening match.

Datuk Seri Windsor John, AFC general secretary, said: “From the very beginning, we knew that the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 would take its place as the most accessible and engaging edition in the tournament’s history. Football has the undeniable power to unite communities and nowhere is that more palpable than right here in Qatar on Asia’s most prestigious stage. 

“This achievement is a tribute to our passionate fans and our dear friends from the Qatar Football Association and the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 local organising committee, and the AFC would like to extend our deep sense of gratitude to all our stakeholders and the people of Qatar for their unrivalled and warm hospitality.”

Jassim Al Jassim, chief executive of the local organising committee, added: “Once again, Qatar has reaffirmed its place as a global sporting capital. Our modern infrastructure and operational experience have enabled us to deliver yet another accessible and culturally engaging tournament to the highest standards.

“We’re delighted to be setting records this early in the tournament. With 11 matches still to go, the best is yet to come, with many teams showcasing exceptional performances.”

The final of the Asian Cup will take place on February 10 at Lusail Stadium.

The event had initially been due to take place in China last summer but the country relinquished its hosting rights in May 2022 amid the continued challenges created by its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qatar was confirmed as the host country in October 2022 and the tournament was shifted from mid-2023 to early 2024 in an effort to avoid the heat of the Gulf summer.