Dubai: Saudi Arabia, India and Uzbekistan will be joined by two more associations expressing their interest in hosting the AFC Asian Cup in 2027.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have disclosed that all five national associations have formally submitted their bid documents to host the continental competition in seven years’ time way ahead of the stipulated deadline.
“The All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI), the Qatar Football Association (QFA), the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and the Uzbekistan Football Association (UFA) all submitted their Form of Legal Opinion, Host Candidate Questionnaire and Sponsor Non-Infringement Undertakings to the AFC,” read a statement from the AFC on its website.
“Now, all five will be required to submit a Letter of Undertaking to meet the List of Requirements for the tournament by October 30, 2020 as the next stage of the process. The successful host of the 19th edition of the AFC Asian Cup for 2027 will be announced in 2021.”
The second oldest continental football championship in the world after Copa America, the Asian Cup is held once every four years.
The UAE were hosts to a first-ever 24-team competition - in 2019 - with Qatar powering their way to a win against Japan in Abu Dhabi.
Initially, successful teams included South Korea (twice) and Iran (three times). However, since 1984, Japan (four times) and Saudi Arabia (three times) have been the most successful teams, together winning seven of the last ten finals.
Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2007 and hosted the Asian Cup finals in 2015. The 2019 tournament was expanded for the first time from 16 to 24 teams, with the qualifying process doubling as part of the qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Since the inaugural edition held in Hong Kong in 1956, both Iran and Qatar have hosted this continental competition on two occasions each. Iran did so in 1968 and 1976, while Qatar were hosts in 1988 and 2011. India, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan are yet to play host to this competition.
China will be the hosts for the 2023 Asian Cup, while the awarding of the 2027 edition will be done by AFC’s 30-member executive committee in 2021. AFC president, Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, emphasised that future AFC Asian Cups should be given more preparation time, with the 2027 hosts being appointed as soon as possible.