The federation is focusing on the development of the game rather than hosting major international events.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has announced its decision to withdraw their bid to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027. This is after the association pushed hard to earn the opportunity of hosting the continental tournament for the first time ever.

The major reason behind the AIFF backing out of the race for the rights to host the 2027 AFC Asian Cup edition is because it doesn’t fit into the federation’s ‘strategic priorities’. The AIFF has also given a major update on its strategic roadmap for the future of Indian football. They’re claiming that their definitive plans for it will be announced before the end of the year.

AIFF officials’ comments on the decision

AIFF’s executive committee members took the final decision to withdraw from the competition’s hosting rights. They said in a statement: “Our current focus is building the foundations of proper footballing structure before thinking of hosting bigger events like the AFC Asian Cup.”

AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey voiced his support to the executive committee’s decision. He said: “India has always been a wonderful and efficient host to big tournaments, which was amply demonstrated in the recently concluded FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

“However, the EC has decided that the overall strategy of the Federation currently remains on focusing on the fundamental goals to strengthen our football at every level from grassroots to youth development.

“At the same time, we must also strengthen our stakeholders, especially the State Associations and work closely with the clubs to bring about a change in every aspect of football at the domestic level. All such aspects will truly be implemented when the Roadmap is announced later this month.”

AIFF General Secretary Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran hinted that the current Indian football scene needs major improvements before being able to host such a tournament. He stated: “Our strategy is very simple. We must focus on developing the game on a priority basis, before planning to host major international competitions.

“Hosting competitions requires big resources and sometimes encourages the tendency to take the major issues away from our focus. Right now, our focus should be to take Indian Football forward together.”

India’s recent history of hosting major tournaments

This is definitely an interesting decision taken by the AIFF. India has been the host of some major international footballing events in the last five years or so. The country successfully hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, achieving record attendance and got global praise.

The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was also hosted earlier this year, after a FIFA ban threatened to put a stop to it. It seems like the AIFF has bigger things to solve before they feel ready for India to host a major AFC competition.

The Indian national team has, of course, already qualified for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup – which will take place in Qatar next year. It will mark successive qualification for such a competition for the first time in decades, as the Blue Tigers hope to have a better showing from the 2019 edition.

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