Friday 12 January 2024, 23:00

FIFA President delighted to make Qatar return for AFC Asian Cup 2023 opener

  • Gianni Infantino sees AFC Asian Cup 2023 hosts Qatar defeat Lebanon in opening game

  • Match was played in Lusail Stadium, venue for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ final

  • FIFA President delighted to meet “familiar faces […] from the global football community”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has returned to Doha, Qatar, to attend the opening game of the AFC Asian Cup 2023, and called the competition a “fantastic tournament that unites the world”. The AFC Asian Cup was expanded from 16 teams to 24 at the previous edition in 2019, and the 2023 tournament does see a number of fresh faces among the participants. Tajikistan are making their debut at the tournament while Hong Kong are taking part for the first time since 1968. Indonesia and Malaysia, who last participated in 2007, also return.

At the recent FIFA Football Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Mr Infantino reiterated FIFA’s strategic objectives for the next four years, and highlighted the need to give FIFA Member Associations new international match opportunities at club and national team level. The number of teams at many FIFA tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup 26™, has already been increased, giving more countries than ever the opportunity to qualify for major tournaments, and compete with the very best in the world.

Barely a year after the thrilling FIFA World Cup 2022™ final took place in the Lusail Stadium, Mr Infantino was back at the iconic venue to see the start of a tournament that is a prime example of the benefits of expanding the global game. “I am pleased to be back in the fantastic Lusail Stadium - which hosted the final of the greatest-ever FIFA World Cup 2022 - for the opening game of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 between hosts Qatar and Lebanon,” said the FIFA President, who sat alongside the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim ibn Hamad Al Thani, at the game, as he did at the final between Argentina and France in December 2022. “It was great to meet many familiar faces as well as friends and colleagues from the global football community.

Good luck to everyone at the Asian Football Confederation, led by President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, for hosting a fantastic tournament that unites the world, and to all the participating nations for putting on a great show.”