Australia has been officially named as host of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 after the Asian Football Confederation executive committee unanimously voted to support its bid on Wednesday night.
The tournament will be held in January 2015 and played in stadiums selected from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and the Gold Coast.
Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy said the Asian Cup was the biggest sporting event in Asia and a wonderful opportunity to showcase Australia to Asia and the rest of the world.
“Australia has a long history of hosting fantastic sporting events and the benefits for Australia to host an event of this kind will not only leave a strong legacy for football in Australia, but also cement Australia’s place in the Asian economic community,” Lowy said.
“This is a terrific boost to football in Australia at all levels and it comes as our Qantas Socceroos, the highest ranked team in Asia, are only days away from competing in the AFC Asian Cup 2011 here in Qatar.
“Australians are about to see just how big this tournament is with an expected television audience of more than one billion watching sixteen quality teams compete from some of the biggest nations in Asia including Japan, Korea, India and China.
“It is a great coup to host this event and it will be a catalyst for taking the game forward in Australia over the next few years.”
Lowy said he wanted to thank the Federal Government as well as the governments of Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Victoria for supporting the bid.
It is estimated the 32 matches will attract between 438,000 and 510,000 spectators with the Socceroos expected to play at least one group game in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
FFA has proposed Melbourne to host the opening match and Sydney to host the final. It is expected to bring in up to 45,000 visitors, create up to 1000 jobs and boost GDP by $23million.
FFA CEO Ben Buckley said the hosting of the Asian Cup will be a key focus over the next four years along with other key strategic areas of FFA’s operations.
These include representative national teams, particularly the Socceroos’ qualification campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, further consolidation and strengthening of the A-League, National Youth League and W-League and continued implementation of the national football development program at both the talented player and community levels.
Federal Government support of these strategic priorities has enabled significant investment in recent years including important initiatives in growth areas such as women’s and indigenous football. These strategic priorities will form the basis of a joint review and the Asian Cup will provide a catalyst for continuing the growth of football.
“The strength and diversity of the game in Australia across all these strategic areas was a feature of our bid and our presentation to the AFC,” Buckley said.
“We are confident that the popularity of the game and its broad supporter base across the community will ensure the AFC Asian Cup in Australia will set the benchmark for this tournament for years to come.”