2023 Asian Cup host China plans 9 football stadiums by 2021
China has won the bid to host the 2023 Asian Cup football tournament plans to construct nine new football-only stadiums by the end of 2021.
Asia’s football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa said that China’s staging of the 2023 Asian Cup would serve as “launchpad” for the country’s teams of the future, the AFP reported.
China was confirmed as host at the AFC’s Extraordinary Congress in Paris after all the other countries in the running dropped their bids, giving the Chinese a possible dry-run for organizing a future World Cup, according to the news agency.
China has proposed Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Tianjin, Wuhan and Xi’an as host cities and the country plans on delivering new stadia by the end of 2021.
Minor renovation work is planned for the National Stadium in Beijing, along with the Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium, Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Centre Main Stadium, Changsha’s Helong Sports Centre Stadium and Guangzhou Tianhe Sports Centre Stadium.
The final of the tournament will be held at Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium, which is currently under construction. The stadium will also host a semi-final along with Beijing’s National Stadium.
“Our vision is to bring the game to more places, more people and have more media exposure and create more excitement,” said Lin Xiaohua, an executive committee member of the Chinese Football Association.
“(We want) to build a lasting and positive legacy by inspiring a bigger love of football in China, the most populous country in the world, and also making football the number one sport in our continent,” he added.
Other stadia that are currently under construction include Chongqing Liangjiang Football Match Centre Stadium, Dalian Professional Football Stadium, Wuhan Tazi Lake Football Stadium, Chengdu Fenghuangshan Sports Centre Professional Football Stadium, Shaanxi Province Stadium and Kunshan Sports Centre.
“This is an important moment for football in Asia and beyond,” said Sheikh Salman, FIFA’s second-in-command, who was reelected to a fresh four-year term as AFC president in April.
“Football has the chance to unlock the potential that exists in the world’s most populous country. We have seen the rise of the game under the direction and investment of the Chinese government. Now, we have the chance with this Asian Cup to develop a sure legacy for the global game,” he added.
“The Asian Cup can provide a launchpad for the great Chinese football teams of the future and more importantly can place football as the number one sport in the country.”
Last month South Korea abandoned their bid to stage the tournament, leaving China as the sole candidates with a free run to become hosts. Thailand and Indonesia had also previously expressed interest in hosting the 2023 event, but had dropped out earlier.
This year’s Asian Cup in the UAE was expanded to 24 nations for the first time with Qatar winning the final.
China, who have only qualified once for the World Cup in 2002, are ranked a lowly 74th in the world in FIFA’s rankings, sandwiched between Panama and Cape Verde.
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