AFC and CFA evaluate 20 host city bids for 2023 Asian Cup

The Asian Football Confederation and the Chinese Football Association have established a joint evaluation team to review and evaluate the application materials submitted by 20 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dalian, Shanxi and Hangzhou, to host the 2023 Asian Cup, which will be held in China.

The joint evaluation team are currently touring prospective host cities, according to the Xinhua news agency, and will focus on the construction and presence of professional stadiums, the level of youth and football development, and each city’s infrastructure level.

Prospective host cities are also required to set up football youth development centres by the end of 2021, according to the CFA.

As part of the country’s long-term ambitions, the CFA proposed building new football-specific stadiums in nine of their planned 12 host cities. Their winning bid to host the 2023 Asian Cup also comprised the inclusion of one back-up existing stadium in each host city – all of which meet the latest international competition requirements set by the AFC. The AFC’s bidding requirements called for a minimum of seven stadia.

Based on the current list of proposed facilities, new constructions will be delivered by December 2021, which is part of the Overall Plan for Chinese Football Reform and Development issued by the Chinese government in March 2015. All related costs therefore are budgeted for by the municipal governments.

According to the bid plan, Beijing’s National Stadium, Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium, Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Centre Main Stadium, Helong Sports Centre Stadium in Changsha and Guangzhou Tianhe Sports Centre Stadium will receive minor renovation work.

Under construction are: Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium, Chongqing Liangjiang Football Match Centre Stadium, Dalian Professional Football Stadium, Wuhan Tazi Lake Football Stadium, Chengdu Fenghuangshan Sports Centre Professional Football Stadium, Shaanxi Province Stadium and Kunshan Sports Centre.

Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium has been lined up to host the final and one semi-final, with the other semi-final being staged at Beijing’s National Stadium.

This marks the second time the Asian Cup will be held in China after the 2004 tournament, when the event was expanded to 16 teams for the first time. Since then, Asia’s flagship national team competition has grown to 24 teams with the United Arab Emirates staging the biggest-ever edition earlier this year.

Under the leadership of newly-appointed chairman Chen Xuyuan, the CFA has stated its goal is to expand the influence of Chinese companies and the Chinese football industry in Asian football, and invite the AFC federation leadership to visit China later this year, as part of his position in the executive committee.