Kuala Lumpur, February 20: India has been recommended as the first South Asian hosts for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup 2022 by the AFC Women's Football Committee which met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wednesday as part of the AFC's commitment to grow the women's game.
It was felt that India, who will also have the experience of hosting the FIFA Women's Under-17 World Cup later this year, was best placed among the three bidders - Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan were the other competing candidates - to maximise the promotion of the women's game.
The stadiums proposed by India - D Y Patil Stadium and Trans Stadia Arena - are also being used in the FIFA tournament. India was the host of the AFC Under-16 Championships in 2016 and the FIFA Under-17 World Cup 2017 and the Committee agreed the country could continue raising the standards of the AFC Women's Asian Cup.Chairperson, Mahfuza Akhter Kiron said: "This is the most important and prestigious competition in women's football in Asia. The last edition was a major step forward for the women's game in Asia. It was played in Jordan, the first time a West Asian nation had hosted the event. Now we are looking to build on that legacy."
"India offers the best opportunities to build the event commercially as well as increasing the value and India is also committed to developing the women's game in the country and while all three were strong bids, India stands out," he added. The Committee decided that the expanded AFC Women's Asian Cup - eight to 12 teams - will be played in three groups of four with a minimum of 25 matches with eight teams qualifying for the newly introduced quarter-finals.
The committee agreed that the minimum length of the competition would be 17 days and that the Administration would be mandated to organise the relevant play-off matches - depending on the AFC slots at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023.
The dates of the tournament are likely to be in late October and early November in 2022 and the matches schedule will now be worked out bearing in mind the start of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the agreed FIFA release dates. The Committee also heard of the phased introduction of the AFC Women's Champions League, following the successful AFC/FIFA pilot championship in Korea Republic in November 2019. The Pilot program will continue in 2020 with a maximum six invited clubs.
In 2021 and 2022, there will be eight invited clubs and by 2023 and 2024, this will grow to a minimum of 12 which will be open to all Member Associations and in 2025, it will be consolidated to 16 teams and by then an AFC Women's Club Competition ranking will have been devised.
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