India join Qatar, Iran in race to host 2027 Asian Cup
General secretary of the All India Football Association (AIFF) Kushal Das hopes to bank on the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) constant efforts to spread the game throughout the continent and secure the hosting rights for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
The continental body on Wednesday announced India as one of the five contenders who could host the quadrennial showpiece event in 2027. However, with powerhouses Iran, Saudi Arabia, defending champions Qatar and Uzbekistan in the mix, Kushal Das realises that the deal is far from secure.
“There are very strong footballing nations like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and they will also be keen to host it. At least, Qatar would have had a fantastic infrastructure post the (2022 FIFA) World Cup,” the AIFF official told the Olympic Channel.
“I am sure, there will definitely be a lot of competition. But the reason India could be considered is, you know, the AFC wants to develop the game in the whole of the continent and India is a very important country in this whole plan. That’s the reason why we have expressed our interest.”
India banks on experience
The past few years have seen India host a clutch of marquee events including the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup.
And with India welcoming the world for the women’s U-17 World Cup next year and the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup, Kushal Das sounded confident of India pulling off another spectacular show if given an opportunity.
“I think we are in a good position (if given an opportunity to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup),” he said.
Since we would have had the experience of hosting quite a few big-ticket events by the time the 2027 Asian Cup comes around, I think we will have the necessary confidence as hosts.
“We have a reasonably good infrastructure. I think we have five-six stadiums that are approved by the AFC and are of international standards. So, I think we are fairly confident of doing this if we are to get the hosting rights.”
Though the AIFF official admitted that they are in for a tough run once the bidding process starts, Kushal Das was optimistic about India's chances.
“They are strong nations. Especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran. They are strong footballing countries and they also have the infrastructure,” he explained.
“But I think everyone looks at India as an emerging footballing nation. And they also understand the importance of giving India the hosting rights of important events. That’s the reason why FIFA has given us two World Cups, age-group of course, and then the AFC has given us the right to host the women’s Asian Cup in 2022.”
While Qatar has hosted the Asian Cup in 1988 and 2011, Iran had the premier continental competition on their home soil in 1968 and 1976.
The AFC is expected to work with the bidding nations on the further process with the host nation scheduled to be announced next year.