Qatar was confirmed as the host nation for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, by beating competitions from South Korea and Indonesia. The tournament, which is now likely to move to early 2024, will be held in Qatar for the third time.
China originally won the right to host the tournament, but withdrew due to its Covid-19 prevention policies.
The gleaming new stadiums in Doha, set for the 2022 World Cup, may have helped the small group of AFC panelists who chose the hosts to justify their decision, but others are likely to wonder why Qatar will host Asia’s biggest football competition again after 13 years. Just. Years after it last hosted the Asian Cup.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino often talks about developing the game and taking it outside Europe to all over the world. But in Asia, it seems that “developing the game” means holding every potential tournament in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia.
Qatar most recently hosted the AFC Asian Cup in 2011. Qatar’s bid to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup (which it has now withdrew from after winning the 2023 tournament) describes Qatar 2011 as “the best edition in the tournament’s history”.
Others did not give the tournament such glowing reviews. CNN says that “the stadiums have remained stubbornly empty” even though tickets cost no more than $5. Attendance can be low at the AFC Asian Cup, but the average attendance in 2011 was about 10,000 less than both the 2007 ASEAN Championships and Australia 2015. Thousands of fans were also reported to have been kicked out of the final by ruthless police.
Qatar also hosted the FIFA Club World Cup in 2019 and 2020, the knockout stages and most group stage matches in the AFC Champions League in 2020 and the Asian Games in 2006. It will host the 2030 Asian Games, and is scheduled to host the AFC U-23 Cup in early 2024, on the Although it is likely that it will be moved to make way for the Asian Cup.
Saudi Arabia and India are competing for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, which means that the AFC Asian Cup can be held in the Arabian Peninsula for all tournaments from 2011 to 2027 except for Australia 2015.
The UAE, which hosted the last AFC Asian Cup in 2019, also hosted all the Club World Cup tournaments since 2017 that were not in Qatar, while Saudi Arabia hosted the Spanish and Italian Super Cups, hosting the 2029 Asian Winter. 2034 Asian Games, looking to host the 2030 World Cup.
Competing bids for Qatar for 2023 were South Korea, which last hosted the tournament in 1960, and Indonesia, which was one of four co-hosts in 2007 but did not host the tournament alone.
The Asian Cup is likely to be moved to winter, which comes in the middle of the European football calendar, which means stars like Son Heung-min and Mehdi Taremi will have to choose between club and country. In 2019, Son said fatigue had affected his performance in the tournament, which came at the end of a stressful year for the Tottenham Hotspur player. This also means that the tournament has to rival the English Premier League and La Liga for television audiences.
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup will give Qatar’s stadiums a target once the 2022 World Cup is over. But while the World Cup is almost out, Qatar will have to do much better with tickets and promotion than it did in 2011 if it is to make the AFC Asian Cup a success. 2023 and justify the decision of the Asian Football Confederation to give Qatar a better award. Prestigious championship again.