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Kushal Das: Securing rights to host AFC Asian Cup 2027 will be a big challenge

All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

Even as India have expressed their interest to the Asian Football Confederation to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027, Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation (AIFF) in a live chat with AIFF TV stated that securing the hosting rights for the AFC Asian Cup 2027 will be a “different ballgame.”

“Although we have submitted our bid (to host), there are some big footballing nations who pose a big challenge. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Uzbekistan have also expressed their interest. Given the fact that Qatar would host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, facilities and infrastructures would be top class. We’ll see and look into our strategies,” Mr. Das averred.

India have emerged as the ‘go-to destination’ for hosting International competitions since the seamless hosting of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup is slated for February 2021 and India have also bagged the rights to host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2022.

It’s an interesting story

The General Secretary recalled how the idea of hosting the FIFA U17 World Cup India 2017 fell in place. In 2013, the then Technical Director of FIFA had come to India for a pivotal meeting and he encouraged AIFF top-brass to submit the bid for hosting the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017.

“I remember where it started. I was talking to the Technical Director of FIFA who had come to Bengaluru for a meeting on our youth development programme. It was therein that he suggested we pitch for FIFA U17 World Cup. It was sometimes around 2013,” Mr. Das recollected.

“Although we had apprehensions and doubts whether FIFA would be convinced to give us an event of that stature, he explained how highly India is regarded by FIFA. He elaborated that with all the youth development programmes happening, it was the perfect time for us to bid for a big event. Eventually, it would add a lot of value to the youth programmes and would provide India with a chance to understand how FIFA events are hosted.”

Rest, as they say, was history. The attendance for this World Cup was a staggering figure of 1,347,133 which surpassed China’s record of 1,230,976 logged during the maiden edition of the tournament in 1985.

“In 2014 we received the confirmation from FIFA and started our work. It was a long process. It needed a lot of activities like coordinating with the Government regarding guarantees, setting up a team.”

After 2017 we are more confident

The championship in India shattered the record set during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia (1,309,929 in 2011) to mark it the most-attended FIFA youth World Cup ever.

“Once we hosted the U17 World Cup in 2017 we were confident to host more International events. Although the preparation for FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup has been dented because of the pandemic we are confident to pull this off successfully. We were convinced to earn the hosting rights for this one as well as the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2022,” Mr. Das maintained.

The U-17 Women’s World Cup is slated to kick-off on February 17, 2021 with the final slated for March 7. Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Kolkata and Navi Mumbai have already been confirmed as the five host cities for the tournament which will see sixteen teams locking horns for the coveted trophy.

(AIFF Media)