Thursday, September 29, 2022

Soccer: Australia out of 2023 Asian Cup race, wants to host 2026 women's tournament

Soccer: Australia out of 2023 Asian Cup race, wants to host 2026 women's tournament

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia decided not to bid for the 2023 Asian Cup but will submit one for the 2026 women's tournament, Football Australia said on Friday.

Australia, along with South Korea, Indonesia and Qatar, had submitted an expression of interest to replace China as hosts of the 2023 tournament. 

"Football Australia has since determined that it will not proceed to submit a formal bid for the AFC Asian Cup 2023," the governing body said in a statement.

"Football Australia maintains its strong interest in bidding for the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2026 and will submit a formal and comprehensive bid to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) within the required timeline later this year."

The FA gave no reasons for pulling out but chief executive James Johnson said in July a bid would be contingent on government support and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) being open to moving the tournament to January-February 2024. 

China was to stage the 24-team event in June and July next year but relinquished its hosting rights in May as it pursued a zero-COVID policy.

Australia is scheduled to co-host the 2023 Women's World Cup with New Zealand in July-August next year.

The deadline for bids for the men's Asian Cup was Aug. 31. South Korea confirmed this week it had submitted a bid.

When contacted by Reuters on Friday, the AFC declined to comment on whether Indonesia and Qatar had also bid.

Indonesia's football association declined to comment on its interest in the tournament. The Qatari football association did not provide immediate comment but a source confirmed to Reuters that the necessary documents have been submitted.

Australia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Uzbekistan had submitted expressions of interest in hosting the 2026 women's Asian Cup, the AFC said last month.