Korea in full gear to host the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup

Date Sep 20, 2022

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Minister PARK Bo Gyoon, MCST) submitted official bid file to host the “2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup” on September 15 (Thur) and will join forces with the Korea Football Association (KFA) and local governments, and put forth great efforts to be the host country of the Asian Cup.

In May this year, after China relinquished the hosting rights of the Asian Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AFC announced processes to select a new venue for the tournament. Immediately after the announcement, the KFA officially expressed its commitment to host the Asian Cup and submitted a letter of undertaking (LOU) to the Confederation. 

The Asian Cup is the most prestigious football tournament in Asia. Korea’s winning the inaugural tournament (1956) of the Asian Cup was the first international championship victory in its football history. Additionally, the 2nd tournament (1960) was held in Korea, and the Hyochang Stadium in Seoul, built to stage the matches, served as a cradle for fostering Korean youth and amateur football leagues. In particular, the fact that Korea has advanced to the finals four times (1972, 1980, 1988, and 2015) in the last six decades but failed to win the victory after winning the initial two AFC Asian Cup tournaments, makes scoring another championship closer to the heart of many Koreans whose favorite pastime is football. Most recently in 2015, Koreans remember SON Heung-min shedding tears on the ground after losing the match against Australia.

Meanwhile, the countries competing to host the 2023 Asian Cup are, Korea, Qatar (the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup), and Indonesia (the host of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup). Australia first showed its interests in holding the event but decided to not to race in the end.

Korea has showcased world-class sports infrastructure, cutting-edge information technology, and advanced citizenry and cultural capabilities to the world by successfully hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. In addition, unlike Qatar, where the tournament schedule has to be changed from June-July, 2023 to January 2024, hosting the tournament in Korea requires no schedule change. Furthermore, considering that China, the current venue for the event, is located in the same East Asian region as Korea, and that the previous venue for the 2019 tournament was the Middle East (United Arab Emirates), hosting the Asian Cup in Korea will be regarded as honoring the regional balance aspect of the tournament. In addition, great nationwide interest in the sport by Koreans along with an expected high number of spectators from Korea, China and Japan are likely to work in favor of Korea during the evaluation process by the AFC.

The seven AFC Site inspection delegation team paid visit to Korea on September 4 (Sun) and inspected on venue facilities, including accommodation. On September 6 (Tue), the delegation went to Hwaseong City and Suwon City WorldCup Stadium to see whether the venues are eligible to host the games. During the visit, MCST was fully involved in to engage in activities to better accommodate the AFC Inspection Visit in collaboration with the KFA and local governments. Moreover, the relevant bodies  will make all-out efforts towards hosting the Asian Cup after 63 years.

The venue for the 2023 AFC Cup will be officially announced on October 17 according to the results of the AFC Inspection Visits and AFC Executive Committee meetings in September.