KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS: China will host the Asian Cup in 2023, the Asian Football Confederation decuided at an extraordinary congress in Paris on the eve of FIFA Congress.

The Chinese, who have their eyes on hosting the World Cup no later than 2034, will thus be staging the event for the second time after 2004.

Qatar are the defending champions after winning their maiden title at this year’s edition in the United Arab Emirates although they may still gacea challenge from the UAE – whom they beat in the semi-finals – over the eligibiity of two of their players.

In February the AFC rejected a UAE protest over the status of 22-year-old Almoez Ali – who scored two of the goals in Qatar’s 4-0 win – and 21-year-old Iraqi-born defender Bassam Al Rawi. Sudan-born striker Ali scored his eighth goal of the tournament to equal the finals record set by Iran’s Ali Daei.

Ali Almoez Ali was born in Khartoum, Sudan, and moved to Qatar as a child. He has represented the Gulf state at  under-19, under-20 and under-23 level. He made his senior debut in 2016 and has scored 18 goals in 34 appearances without his eligibility being formally challenged.

FIFA rules

Al Rawi has also played for Qatar at the same three age-group levels. His father was an Iraqi international but that did not stop the son celebrating the goal with which Qatar defeated Iraq in the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Regulations set by world federation FIFA require that a player who switches national teams must either qualify through their parents or grandparents or have resided in a country for five years after his/her 18th birthday.

Relations between Qatar and the UAE were bitter enough already because of the political and economic boycott of Qatar imposed by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and which also includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

Barely a handful of Qatars fans were granted entry to the Emirates to watch or support their team.

AFC statement:

China PR to host AFC Asian Cup 2023

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Member Associations have today confirmed China PR as the hosts for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 at the AFC Extraordinary Congress in Paris, France.

The unanimous decision marks the second time Asia’s crown jewel will be played in the People’s Republic of China who also hosted the 13th edition in 2004 when the tournament was expanded to 16 teams for the first time.Since then, Asia’s flagship national team competition has grown to 24 teams with the United Arab Emirates staging the biggest-ever edition earlier this year, which broke all digital media engagement and TV viewership records.In his address to the AFC Member Associations, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the AFC President said: “Let me be the first to congratulate the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Football Association on being awarded the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

“This is an important moment for football in Asia and beyond. Football now has a 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 true legacy for the global game.

“Hosting the AFC Asian Cup will provide China PR with great facilities and infrastructure  to stage football tournaments.

“It will provide inspiration for tens of millions of children. The Asian Cup can provide a launch pad for the great Chinese football teams of the future.”

“And more importantly can place football as the number one sport in the country.

“Congratulations again to the Chinese FA and the AFC looks forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

The Chinese FA’s bid was the only one presented at the Congress with three other Member Associations – Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), Football Association of Thailand and the Korea Football Association – initially submitting their interest before confirming their withdrawals at the later stages of the bidding process.

As part of the country’s long-term ambitions, China PR have proposed building new football specific stadiums in nine of the planned twelve host cities. The bid also comprised the inclusion of one back-up existing stadium in each host city – all of which meet the latest international competition requirements set by the AFC.

The AFC also hopes that the staging of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 in China P.R. will mark the growth of commercial rights in a new era where DDMC Fortis are the AFC’s exclusive commercial representatives.

China PR showcased their organisational excellence in a wide range of areas, including infrastructure, operational and legacy concepts. To access China PR’s bid presentation video, please click here.