Praful Patel, left, President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports at the 2027 AFC Asian Cup bid launch
Praful Patel, left, President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports at the 2027 AFC Asian Cup bid launch Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: India is confident of showcasing its sporting side after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) formally announced its candidature to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027 on Wednesday.

Unveiling its plans at the launch in New Delhi, AIFF showcased the unrivalled potential of hosting the continent’s flagship football event in the world’s fastest emerging football market with a promise to deliver a “brighter future together” for football in India and across Asia.

The bid promises to take Asian football to new heights by working in partnership with the AFC to unlock new commercial opportunities, drive growth and build on an ever-growing love for the sport among the country’s youthful population.

“We’re continuously working on infrastructure upgrades and football development, and India would be honoured to be selected as the host for the AFC Asian Cup. It is an unparalleled opportunity to take Asian football to new heights and create a Brighter Future Together, for India, for the AFC and for our whole continent,” Praful Patel, President of AIFF and Fifa Council Member, said at the announcement.

“It has taken a lot of hard work to reach the level we are at today, where we can think of hosting international events year on year. The 2017 U-17 World Cup in India left an indelible mark on our country and we’re now working towards ensuring U-17 Women’s World Cup and the AFC Women’s Asian Cup go down as two of the most successful women’s international football tournaments.”

Indian Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, was also keen to usher in a new era for sport in the country of more than 1.3 billion people. “Hosting Asia’s biggest football event, the Asian Cup will be a huge milestone for Indian sports. Our nation is perfectly poised to host a mega sporting event of this magnitude. We have extensive experience over the last two decades of successfully planning, organising and staging some of the world’s biggest sporting events and are looking forward to hosting two more big events in 2022 — the U-17 Women’s World Cup and Women’s Asian Cup. I assure you that all government support will be given in getting this tournament to India, and making it a memorable one for everyone involved,” he said.

With modern, world-class stadia, well-connected and welcoming host cities, full and unwavering government and state support, and a proven track record of delivering major international events, India would guarantee a safe pair of hands as tournament hosts.

In addition to the U-17 World Cup in 2017 — the most attended youth tournament in its history with a record 1.34 million spectators — India is also due to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup and the Women’s Asian Cup in 2022. As hosts, India is confident of delivering a vibrant and exuberant celebration of football, filling stadia and connecting fans across the region through a shared love of the beautiful game.

The India 2027 campaign’s powerful logo, revealed at the launch, represents the ambition, commitment, focus and spirit of the bid, epitomised by the royal tiger. The tiger is also an emblem of India’s national team, the Blue Tigers.

The slogan, ‘Brighter Future Together’, highlights the exceptional opportunity the bid presents for AFC and AIFF to work in partnership and take Indian and Asian football to the next level.

The tournament in 2027 will involve 24 national teams, including that of the host nation, assuming the current format of the finals is maintained.

Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan are the four other nations who have also shown an interest in staging the quadrennial football tournament for men.