India has formally submitted its bid documents for hosting the AFC Asian Cup in 2027, as per confirmed reports.
“We have already submitted our expression of interest to the AFC. That is what’s required as of now,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das was quoted in the Indian media. Other than India, Saudi Arabia, which has won the continental title three times but never hosted the tournament, is only nation to have publicly announced their intention to launch a bid for 2027 Asian Cup.
Earlier, India had joined the race to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, alongside Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea, but pulled out early in October 2018. Later, Thailand and South Korea also pulled out leaving China as the sole country to host the 2023 tournament, that is planned to be held in ten different cities.
South Korea, who is hosting the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, is also expected to join India and Saudi Arabia in the bid for the men’s 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
Since successfully staging the men’s U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017, India was to host the U-17 women’s FIFA World Cup in November this year, but this competition has been put off for a later date due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. India has also been awarded hosting rights for the 2022 Women’s AFC Asian Cup.
“The AFC had hoped to announce the tournament hosts as soon as possible to give them more time to prepare for the quadrennial continental championship, which was expanded to 24 teams for the 2019 edition in the United Arab Emirates,” the AFC had said in a statement last month.
The AFC is now expected to announce the host country early next year. If India wins the bid, it will be the first time the country will host the continental showpiece event.
So far, India had featured four times in the AFC Asian Cup and their best performance was a runners-up finish in 1964 when it was a round-robin tournament without a final and competed among just four teams – hosts and eventual champions Israel, Hong Kong, South Korea and India.