India throws hat into 2027 AFC Asian Cup ring



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India to bid for hosting Asian Cup 2027 Image: menafn.com

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) having extended the deadline for bids from March 31st to June 30th this year in the wake of COVID-19 taking on a monstrous form, India has thrown its hat into the ring – it has formally submitted its bid to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.

The All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das told mediapersons, “We have already submitted our expression of interest to the AFC. That is what’s required as of now.”

Other than India, Saudi Arabia, who have won the continental title three times but never hosted the tournament, is the only nation to have publicly announced their intention to launch a bid for the 2027 edition. South Korea is also reportedly considering a bid.

India had been linked with a bid for the 2023 edition of the tournament, alongside Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea, but all four countries pulled out allowing China to later secure hosting rights. China will host the 2023 tournament across 10 cities.

Malaysia was also another potential bidder, but the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) General Secretary Stuart Ramalingam has put to rest all speculations stating, “We are not yet ready to host the Asian Cup. We need the Government’s involvement and, at this juncture, it’s not the right time to look that way.”

The winning bid is expected to be announced by AFC early next year. If at all India wins the bid, it will be the first time the country will host the continental event.

India is already set to play host to the 2022 Women’s AFC Asian Cup and was also due to host the U17 FIFA World Cup™ in November before it was deferred due to COVID-19.

“The AFC had hoped to announce the tournament hosts as soon as possible to give them more time to prepare for the quadrennial continental championship, which was expanded to 24 teams for the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates,” the AFC said.

India had featured four times in the AFC Asian Cup and their best performance was a runners-up finish in 1964 when it was a round-robin tournament without a final and competed among just four teams. They failed to get past the group stage in 1984, 2011 and 2019.

Way back in February 2020, Saudi Arabia had announced its candidacy for the 2027 Asian Cup, the continent’s premier men’s football tournament.

If Saudi Arabia goes on to win the bid, it would be the latest sporting extravaganza confirmed for the Kingdom.

“We have a proven track record and a great artistic legacy of Asian achievements in the national teams and clubs,” said Saudi Football Federation President Yasser bin Hassan Al-Mishal.

“This artistic legacy would be completed by hosting the largest Championship on the continent. We hope to present the bright reality of Saudi Arabia in hosting, in light of the unlimited support from our wise leadership, so that we can continue the journey of hosting in our country many international events in various fields,” the top sports official further stated.

Saudi Arabia has won the Asian Cup three times, in 1984, 1988 and 1996. Sport has become a key priority for the country’s Government in recent years, with bids launched for numerous major events.

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