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Cities fight for Asian Cup motza

25 July 2010-SBS EXCLUSIVE: Philip Micallef

Fitting venue ... ANZ Stadium in Sydney is tipped to be the venue of the 2015 Asian Cup final (Getty)

Three Australian states and a territory are engaged in a cut-throat battle to host matches in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

The Asian Cup is the biggest football tournament in the region and will provide a financial windfall for its host cities.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally will announce on Monday afternoon that the state expects to reap a $50 million motza for staging Asian Cup matches.

Australia is the only bidding country for the region’s blue riband event and the Asian Football Confederation is expected to ratify the host nation in January.

Football Federation Australia has finalised its bid for the event and will table it on Thursday.

Chairman Frank Lowy and chief executive Ben Buckley will personally deliver the bid to AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam at AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory are vying for the right to stage matches in the 16-team, 23-day tournament to be held in January.

The timing of the event is perfect because it will cause no displacement for other football codes.

Since the codes will be in their off-season, the Asian Cup’s potential for healthy crowds and media exposure is considerably boosted.

The eight venues comprising a selection shortlist are:

Sydney: ANZ Stadium, Sydney Football Stadium and Parramatta Stadium.

Melbourne: Etihad Stadium and AAMI Park.

Brisbane: Suncorp Stadium.

Gold Coast: Skilled Stadium.

Canberra: Canberra Stadium.

Sydney’s ANZ Stadium is strongly tipped to host the final match.

Tournament regulations require a minimum of four and a maximum of five stadia. The final selection of venues will be made jointly by the AFC and FFA after January.

"The Asian Cup is the biggest sporting event in Asia and will be a fantastic opportunity to showpiece Australia and its uniqueness to Asia and the rest of the world," Buckley said.

"As a new member of the AFC we firmly believe we have a duty to invest in football in our own backyard.

"Football is experiencing substantial growth in Asia and by hosting this tournament Australia will receive valuable exposure in important tourism and commerce markets.

"Our bid has the strong support of the Federal Government and the governments of Queensland, NSW, the ACT and Victoria.

"Winning the Asian Cup is one of the primary goals of our national team and being able to host the event in 2015 will give us a home ground advantage and provide opportunity for our supporters to see the Socceroos take on the best of Asia."

The Asian Cup has grown into a massive television extravaganza.

An estimated 650 million viewers tuned in to the 2007 event held in South-East Asia and one can only wonder how many more fans would follow the forthcoming event in Qatar in January since China and India, whose economies are booming, will be taking part.

In Australia the cumulative audience for the 2007 tournament was 2.5 million with a pay-television record 419,000 watching the Socceroos' quarter-final against Japan.

Australia has qualified for the 2011 event in Qatar and will play in Group C with India, Bahrain and Korea Republic.

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