China to host ‘launchpad’ 2023 Asian Cup

Saudi Arabia's Group E clash against Qatar. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 June 2019

China to host ‘launchpad’ 2023 Asian Cup

  • “This is an important moment for football in Asia,” said Sheikh Salman

PARIS: Asia’s football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa said Tuesday that China’s staging of the 2023 Asian Cup would serve as a “launchpad” for the country’s teams of the future.

China was confirmed earlier Tuesday as host at the AFC’s Extraordinary Congress in Paris after all the other countries in the running dropped their bids, giving the Chinese a possible dry-run for organizing a future World Cup.

“This is an important moment for football in Asia and beyond,” said Sheikh Salman, FIFA’s second-in-command, who was reelected to a fresh four-year term as AFC president in April.

“Football has the chance to unlock the potential that exists in the world’s most populous country.

“We have seen the rise of the game under the direction and investment of the Chinese government.

“Now, we have the chance with this Asian Cup to develop a sure legacy for the global game.

“The Asian Cup can provide a launchpad for the great Chinese football teams of the future and more importantly can place football as the number one sport in the country.”

Last month South Korea abandoned their bid to stage the tournament, leaving China as the sole candidates with a free run to become hosts.

Thailand and Indonesia had also previously expressed interest in hosting the 2023 event, but had dropped out earlier.

This year’s Asian Cup in the UAE was expanded to 24 nations for the first time with Qatar winning the final.

China’s football fan President Xi Jinping has stated his aim for the country to stage the showpiece World Cup one day and wants the country to become a major force in the sport. “It’s great for China, a great honor for China to be hosts of the 2023 Asian Cup. We are ready and confident of staging a successful tournament,” said Chinese FIFA Council member Du Zhaocai.

It will mark the second time China has hosted the quadrennial continental tournament, after the 2004 edition when they finished runners-up to Japan.

The bid proposed 12 candidate cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xian, and there are plans to construct nine new football-only stadiums by the end of 2021.

“Our vision is to bring the game to more places, more people and have more media exposure and create more excitement,” said Lin Xiaohua, an executive committee member of the Chinese Football Association.

“(We want) to build a lasting and positive legacy by inspiring a bigger love of football in China, the most populous country in the world, and also making football the number one sport in our continent.”

China, who have only qualified once for the World Cup in 2002, are ranked a lowly 74th in the world in FIFA’s rankings, sandwiched between Panama and Cape Verde. Marcello Lippi was reappointed as coach of China in May, four months after the World Cup winner quit and following a failed stint by fellow Italian Fabio Cannavaro.

Egypt footballer Amr Warda banned over sexual harassment claims

Updated 26 June 2019

Egypt footballer Amr Warda banned over sexual harassment claims

  • Sexual harassment claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms
  • In 2017 a Portuguese club terminated Warda’s contract over claims he sexually harassed the wives of his team-mates

CAIRO: Egypt’s football federation on Wednesday banned midfielder Amr Warda from playing in any further matches at the African Cup of Nations over mounting sexual harassment allegations.
“Amr Warda is banned from the national squad after discussions with the team’s technical and administrative bodies. This is to maintain the discipline and focus of the team,” said the federation in a statement posted on its website.
The sexual harassment claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms. Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda’s alleged lewd comments.
The Wednesday decision comes hours after another viral clip posted on Twitter by a social media user showed him apparently exposing himself to her. AFP cannot verify the authenticity of the brief video.
“He’s definitely out. We have a match to focus on tonight,” Ihab Leheita, the Egyptian national team’s manager, told AFP, without giving further details.
In 2017, Portuguese football club CD Feriense terminated Warda’s contract over claims that he sexually harassed the wives of two of his team-mates. His tenure lasted only three days and he was transferred to his current Greek club Atromitos.
Egypt are hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations for the fifth time and play DR Congo later Wednesday in their bid to advance from the group stages.
The hosts beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in their opening match, during which Warda took to the field.