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China plans 2023 AFC Asian Cup hosting with potential FIFA World Cup bid to follow
The Chinese Government, backed by football loving Premier Xi Jinping, is planning to bid to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023 – a move seen as a precursor to a bid to host the FIFA World Cup.
In a letter to its members, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced a time scale for its bid for the tournament, which is due to take place in June/July 2023.
A letter of intent to bid shall be sent to the members of the CFA and the host city sports bureau by 29th February, with the full bid set to be submitted in March.
The letter also set out the terms under which China would host the tournament.
The tournament of 24 teams, which features a total of 51 matches through 30 days, will require at least six cities and eight stadia.
The capacity of each stadium for the group stage, round of 16 and quarterfinals is required to be at least 25,000 while the tournament's opening game, semi finals and final requires a stadium with a capacity of least 40,000.
China has over 30 facilities with the required capacity, including the 91,000-capacity Beijing National Stadium and the 80,000-capacity Guangdong Olympic Stadium, which hosted the 2008 Olympic football tournament.
From April 2016, the CFA will study all the applications in line with the Asian Football Confederation rules.
However, the letter indicated that the arenas would need to meet the required standard of function rooms, parking spaces and public transportation. All host cities must have an international airport, while ten 5-star hotels must be spread across the locations.
China previously looked at hosting the 2019 Asian Cup, but later withdrew its bid. With the nation set to host the Winter Olympics in 2022, hosting the AFC’s nations tournament looks likely to be a precursor to a bid to host the FIFA World Cup.
President Xi is currently backing massive investment in grassroots football having previously expressed his desire to host the global football tournament.
In December, a Chinese consortium paid US$400 million for a stake in Manchester City of the English Premier League.
China last hosted the AFC Asian Cup in 2004 when it finished second.
Lower image shows the Beijing National Stadium.
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