Australia to host 2015 Asian Cup

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Australia went some way to easing the pain of losing out to Qatar in the 2022 World Cup race by being awarded the 2015 Asian Cup on Wednesday.

Football Federation Australia was the sole candidate for the event but still had to adhere to the formal bidding process by making its final presentation to the Asian Football Confederation’s executive committee.

“Today the AFC met and decided Australia would be the host nation for the 2015 Asian Cup,” AFC president Mohamad bin Hammam said at a press conference in Doha ahead of the 2011 tournament that kicks off here on Friday.

“We considered all the achievements made in Australia towards the development of football and to encourage the next step in developing the game, we are happy to announce the AFC has approved Australia to host the 2015 Asian Cup.”

The decision comes barely a month after Australia’s expensive failed bid to hold the 2022 World Cup, which humiliatingly received just one vote from FIFA’s executive committee.

Instead Qatar was surprisingly handed the tournament ahead of more fancied bids from not just Australia, but Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Bin Hammam, himself a Qatari, said he was confident Australia would host a top-class tournament in 2015.

“The AFC is happy that all the promises Australia has made will be met in good time,” he said.

“We have much interest in seeing the game develop even more in Australia and this is a part of that.”

Football Federation of Australia chairman Frank Lowy said his country had plenty of experience of hosting big events and the government was fully behind the bid.

“We are delighted that you, Mr President, and your executive committee decided to award the hosting of the 2015 Asian Cup to Australia,” he said.

“We will do the best possible job for the AFC and for Australia.

“The Australian nation will be on show not just on the field but also off the field.

“The people of Australia, the government of Australia are ready and able to host the Cup and ensure that football advances throughout Asia through the efforts of Australia.”

The tournament is planned for January 2015 and will feature the 16 top teams in Asia with matches to be played at four or five selected venues.

Those will be chosen from an initial eight stadiums put forward by Australia’s bid team.

These include Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, Sydney Football Stadium and Parramatta Stadium, Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and AAMI Park, Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, Gold Coast’s Skilled Park and Canberra Stadium.

Among the biggest challenges facing organisers will be the heat in what is Australia’s summer.

This, though, pales in comparison with Qatar’s predicament of hosting the 2022 World Cup in June-July when temperatures in the tiny Gulf emirate soar.

Qatar has insisted that it won the World Cup bid on the merits of a bold proposal to build climate-controlled stadia that will enable players and fans to be comfortable in its desert heat.

But there have been sceptics amid claims that the decision was political, linked to Qatar’s deep pockets.

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