Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Sports

Soccer-AFC executive committee to make decision on Asian Cup host

(Reuters) -A decision on the new host of the 2023 Asian Cup will be made by the Asian Football Confederation’s executive committee following China’s decision to relinquish their rights to the tournament on Saturday.

The AFC’s congress voted in favour on Wednesday of a proposal to allow the decision making body to appoint the replacement after China withdrew from hosting the quadrennial competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chinese had been due to organise the tournament next June and July but the country’s continuing efforts to follow a zero-COVID policy has resulted in the 24-team competition moving elsewhere.

Delegates at the congress, which was held online and chaired from Bahrain by AFC general secretary Windsor John, voted overwhelmingly in favour of giving up their right to decide the replacement host.

The proposal from the executive committee, which was passed with 42 out of 45 members associations voting in favour, stated the AFC congress should no longer take the final decision.

Instead, the confederation’s administration will define the terms and requirements of the bidding process to find a replacement host and submit a report to allow the executive committee to make a final decision.

No timeline was given for the decision and the next executive committee meeting has yet to be scheduled.

The move comes after the Japan Football Association revealed it has been informally approached about the possibility of replacing China as hosts.

“We were sounded out,” JFA chairman Kozo Tashima told Nikkan Sports, without giving further details.

“If Japan were able to host, there’s no question that it would be pretty exciting.”

The JFA was not immediately available for comment.

Japan has the stadium infrastructure in place to stage the tournament in June and July next year, having co-hosted the World Cup in 2002, rugby’s global showpiece in 2019 and the Olympic soccer tournament last year.

Other potential hosts such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Australia would need the tournament moved back to late 2023 or early 2024.

Qatar, which will host the World Cup later this year, and Saudi Arabia would be inhospitable in the middle of the year because of the summer heat, while Australia is co-hosting the women’s World Cup in July and August 2023.

A South Korea FA official said they had a “briefing” after China relinquished the hosting rights but there was not enough time to deliver a world-class tournament in the country.

“When we applied for the 2023 Asian Cup years back, we had quite some time but this Asian Cup is happening just next year and this can’t be just happening in a top-down way,” the official said, declining to be named.

“It’s just the schedule is so tight now.

“I mean if the AFC just lets us host it without any conditions, we’ll do it, but we don’t know what conditions there are to host the Asian Cup and whether we can meet the standard…”

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Elaine Lies in Tokyo and Joori Roh in Seoul, additional writing by Nick Mulvenney and Amlan Chakraborty, editing by Peter Rutherford, David Evans and Martyn Herman)

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