Qatar to stage 2023 Asian Cup after World Cup

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Qatar will host next year’s Asian Cup in place of original hosts China after beating out competing bids from South Korea and Indonesia, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Monday.

The continental championships were awarded to China in 2019, but the world’s most populous country gave up the rights earlier this year as it pursued a zero-COVID policy.

The AFC reopened the bidding process and Qatar, who will host the World Cup from next month, was favored over bids from South Korea and Indonesia at an Executive Committee meeting on Monday.

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“Qatar’s ability and track record in hosting major international sporting events and meticulous attention to detail are admired around the world,” AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement.

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“With their existing world-class infrastructure and unrivaled hosting capabilities, we are confident Qatar will put on a spectacle worthy of the prestige and importance of Asia’s crown jewel.”

The Gulf States have twice hosted the Asian Cup in 1988 and 2011, winning the last edition in 2019 in the United Arab Emirates.

The gas- and oil-rich country has built seven stadiums and modernized another around the capital Doha to host the 32-team World Cup in November and December.

The 24-team Asian Cup is now likely to be pushed back from its original June and July dates to later in 2023 or even early 2024 to ensure games are not played during the worst of the summer heat.

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The Football Association of Qatar and the Qatar Government Media Office did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment or questions about when the tournament would be held.

South Korea were considered favorites to be awarded the hosting rights, having not hosted the finals since 1960, when they won the second of their two Asian titles.

Indonesia was seen as an outsider due to the country’s lack of stadium infrastructure, even more so after more than 130 people died in a stampede for a match at Kanjuruhan Stadium in East Java on October 1.

The AFC said the executive meeting opened with an offer of “heartfelt condolences” to the Indonesian FA “as well as to the families and loved ones of the precious lives lost”.

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Qatar was also one of three nations bidding to host the 2027 Asian Cup after Iran and Uzbekistan withdrew expressions of interest.

The AFC Executive Committee on Monday shortlisted India and Saudi Arabia’s bids for the tournament, with a final decision to be made at their next meeting in February.

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Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, additional reporting by Michael Church in Singapore, editing by Peter Rutherford

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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