|Doha’s Khalifa stadium would likely host the final in
the 2011 AFC Asian Cup [GALLO/GETTY]
Qatar has officially been unveiled as the host of the next Asian Cup, with the tournament likely to be held in January of 2011.
The Arabian Gulf country was the only final bidder after an interested Australia was precluded from consideration as the event must be held away from east Asia for the next edition.
While hosting the event in January does avoid the extreme heat of July in the Gulf region, it does put countries on a collision course with European clubs.
However, Mohammed Bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation president, was confident the players would be released.
“In January we have the window of FIFA,” Bin Hammam said.
“All our players will be released from their duties.”
The president also acknowledged the problem of poor spectator turnout in Qatar as seen during many events at the 2006 Asian Games.
“It’s a concern, but we need to work through a very aggressive promotional programme,” Bin Hammam, himself a Qatari, said.
“Qatar is small, but it’s surrounded by neighbours in the Gulf with huge populations.”