Marketing rights company and sponsors demanded the host nation be shifted.
Eight-time champions India has been given the hosting rights for the 2023 SAFF Championships, which was originally scheduled to be held in Nepal. The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) has confirmed that the 2023 edition of the SAFF championship will be played in India.
SAFF said, “The South Asian Football Federation’s executive committee meeting held virtually on 14 February 2023 has approved the tender bid of Sports Partner International for the marketing and commercial rights of the SAFF Championship”.
Demand to shift the venue to India
The SAFF published a notice inviting tender bids to acquire the rights of the SAFF Championship on 13 December 2022 and received the bid within the deadline of 16 January 2023. The rights have been awarded for four editions till 2029, As per the decision of the committee. The 2023 edition of the championship has been decided to be held in a centralized venue in India.
Nepal was the only country to bid for the hosting rights (2023 edition) but the marketing rights company and sponsors seemed to have demanded the shifting of hosting rights to India.
Initially, Football Sri Lanka had expressed their interest to bid for hosting the tournament at the SAFF Executive Committee meeting on 17 October 2021 in the Maldives. FIFA (Fédération Internationale De Football Association) recently suspended Sri Lanka, which is the reason behind their exclusion.
About the championships
The inaugural edition of the SAFF Championship was held in 1993, in which India beat Sri Lanka in the finals. India has won the tournament a record eight times. The other winners are Maldives (2), Bangladesh (1), Afghanistan (1), and Sri Lanka (1).
India last hosted the SAFF Championship in 2011 and has done so thrice. The Blue Tigers won the last edition in 2021. The defending champions will now have the added advantage of playing in front of their home fans.
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