Dubai: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has granted All India Football Federation (AIFF) the right to host the AFC Women`s Asian Cup 2022 final. The decision was taken at the AFC Women`s Football Committee later on Thursday. In February, the AFC Women’s Football Committee had recommended India as hosts.
In a letter addressed to the AIFF, Dato Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, wrote: “The committee awarded the hosting rights of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Finals to the All India Football Federation.”
This will be the second time that India will be hosting the premier continental competition for women after staging it in Kozhikode, Kerala way back in 1980.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) President, Praful Patel thanked the AFC, “I need to thank the Asian Football Confederation for finding us suitable to host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2022.”
The tournament comes as the latest feather to AIFF`s cap under Patel`s tenure as the president. “The tournament will galvanize the aspiring women players and bring in a holistic social revolution as far as women’s football in the country is concerned,” he told media.
The competition is slated to start in December and is likely to end after more than two weeks of action in January. For the time being, Ahmedabad and Navi Mumbai are the front-runners to host the marquee event.
As hosts, India will get an automatic qualification for the tournament. Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan were the other two countries in the running to host the event.
“The tournament will play a huge role in further popularising women’s football in India. The Women’s Asian Cup 2022 comes on the back of the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2020, and will help us sustain and build on the momentum gained.,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, said.
Although India had not yet bagged an AFC Women’s Asian Cup till now, it had finished as runners-up in 1981 and 1983 and won a bronze medal in 1981. The last time that India qualified for this tournament was in 2003.
The AFC committee has also decided to expand the Asian Cup from eight teams to 12. The teams will be divided into three groups of four that will see a minimum of 25 matches before the best eight teams qualify for the quarter-finals.
For the first time, the Asian Cup will serve as the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where Japan will go in as the defending champions.
It has been a good time for Indian football especially at the grassroots levels after the country of 1.3 billion successfully hosted the Men’s Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and is also set to host the U17 Women’s World Cup in February 2021.
While India is slated to host the FIFA U-17 Women`s World Cup India 2020 from February 17-March 7, 2021, the AIFF had earlier successfully organized the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 in 2017.
“The development of women`s football remains one of our foremost priorities. I need to thank the AFC for granting us the rights and urge all stakeholders to work together for the successful organization of the mega event,” added Das.