New Delhi: India on Monday withdrew its bid to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) stating that hosting major events is not one of its “strategic priorities” at the moment.
India and Saudi Arabia were the only two countries remaining as bidders to host the 2027 continental showpiece after countries such as Iran and Uzbekistan pulled out of the race in October.
India’s bid was launched to much fanfare in 2020 when Praful Patel was the AIFF president, but the current dispensation under Kalyan Chaubey feels that “building the base of the football structure” through base and youth development was more important than organizing big events.
“According to the federation’s strategic roadmap, which will be announced later this month, AIFF management believes that hosting major events does not fit into the federation’s strategic priorities,” the AIFF said in a press release, citing it. executive committee.
“Our current focus is on building the foundations of a good football structure before thinking about hosting bigger events like the AFC Asian Cup.”
Chaubey said India has always been “a great and efficient host” for major tournaments, such as the recently concluded FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, but the focus will now shift to strengthening the country’s football at every level from grassroots to youth development. .
“The EC has decided that the overall strategy of the federation currently remains focused on the fundamental goals of strengthening our football at every level, from grassroots to youth development,” he said.
“At the same time, we also need to strengthen our stakeholders, especially the state associations, and work closely with the clubs to bring about a change in every aspect of football at the national level. All these aspects will really be implemented when the roadmap comes out later this month is announced.”
AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran said, “Our strategy is very simple. We need to focus on developing the game first before making plans to host major international competitions.
“Hosting competitions requires great resources and sometimes encourages the
tendency to take the most important issues out of our focus. Right now, our focus should be to move Indian football forward together.”
The AFC said it will now present Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the 2027 tournament to its congress, to be held in Manama in February.
“The AFC has been officially notified by the AIFF of their decision to withdraw their bid from the 2027 AFC Asian Cup selection process.
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“The AFC Congress will decide on the final host in Manama, Bahrain in February 2023. Following the withdrawal of the AIFF bid, SAFF’s bid to host the 19th edition of the AFC Asian Cup in 2027 will now be the only one submitted to the 33rd AFC Congress for consideration.”
The 2023 edition of the AFC Asian Cup will be held in Qatar after original host China indicated it would not be able to host the tournament due to the COVID-19 situation in that country.
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