AFC Asian Cup
|Number of teams||24|
|Related competitions||FIFA Confederations Cup|
|Most successful team(s)||Japan (4 titles)|
|2019 AFC Asian Cup|
The AFC Asian Cup is an international association football tournament run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). It is the second oldest continental football championship in the world after Copa América. The winning team becomes the champion of Asia and qualifies for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
The Asian Cup was held once every four years from the 1956 edition in Hong Kong until the 2004 tournament in China. However, since the Summer Olympic Games and the European Football Championship were also scheduled in the same year as the Asian Cup, the AFC decided to move their championship to a less crowded cycle. After 2004, the tournament was next held in 2007 when it was co-hosted by four nations: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thereafter, it has been held every four years.
The Asian Cup has generally been dominated by a small number of top teams. Initially successful teams included South Korea (twice) and Iran (three times). Since 1984, Japan (four times) and Saudi Arabia (three times) have been the most successful teams, together winning 7 of the last 9 finals. The other teams which have achieved success are Australia (2015, current champions), Iraq (2007) and Kuwait (1980). Israel won in 1964 but were later expelled and have since joined UEFA.
Australia joined the Asian confederation in 2007 and hosted the Asian Cup finals in 2015. The 2019 tournament will be expanded from 16 teams to 24 teams, with the qualifying process doubling as part of the qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The tournament will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates. Unlike other confederation tournaments, the Asian Cup has often been rescheduled to another time of year to better suit the climate of the host nation, for example in 2007 it was played in July but the following three tournaments were played in January.
Two years after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) came into being in 1954, the first ever AFC Asian Cup was staged in Hong Kong with seven of the 12 founding members taking part. The qualifying process involved the hosts plus the winners of the various zones (central, eastern and western). It was only a four-team tournament, a format that also existed for 1960 and 1964. Each sub-confederation already hosts their own biennial championship, each with varying degrees of interest. Dominance has swung between the East and West so far. From the superiority of South Korea in the early years of the competition, the tournament became the preserve of Iran who won three consecutive tournaments in 1968, 1972 and 1976.
The 2007 edition of the AFC Asian Cup also saw Australia compete for the first time, reaching the quarter-final stage; Iraq defeated Australia, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to win their first ever Asian Cup despite an adverse domestic situation and conditions for the players.
The final tournament is played in two stages: the group stage and the knockout stage. In the group stage each team plays three games in a group of four, with the winners and runners-up from each group advancing to the knockout stage along with the four best third-placed teams. In the knockout stage the sixteen teams compete in a single-elimination tournament, beginning with the round of 16 and ending with the final match of the tournament.
- No third place match has been played since 2019; losing semi-finalists are listed in alphabetical order.
|Team||Winners||Runners-up||Third Place||Fourth Place||Total (Top Four)|
|Japan||4 (1992*, 2000, 2004, 2011)||–||–||1 (2007)||5|
|Saudi Arabia||3 (1984, 1988, 1996)||3 (1992, 2000, 2007)||–||–||6|
|Iran||3 (1968*, 1972, 1976*)||–||4 (1980, 1988, 1996, 2004)||1 (1984)||8|
|South Korea||2 (1956, 1960*)||4 (1972, 1980, 1988, 2015)||4 (1964, 2000, 2007, 2011)||–||10|
|Israel1||1 (1964*)||2 (1956, 1960)||1 (1968)||–||4|
|Kuwait||1 (1980*)||1 (1976)||1 (1984)||1 (1996)||4|
|Australia||1 (2015*)||1 (2011)||–||–||2|
|Iraq||1 (2007)||–||–||2 (1976, 2015)||3|
|China PR||–||2 (1984, 2004*)||2 (1976, 1992)||2 (1988, 2000)||6|
|United Arab Emirates||–||1 (1996*)||1 (2015)||1 (1992)||3|
|Hong Kong||–||–||1 (1956*)||1 (1964)||2|
|Chinese Taipei||–||–||1 (1960)||1 (1968)||2|
|Vietnam2||–||–||–||2 (1956, 1960)||2|
|North Korea||–||–||–||1 (1980)||1|
Champions by region
|EAFF (East Asia)||Japan (4), South Korea (2)||6 titles|
|WAFF (West Asia)||Saudi Arabia (3), Kuwait (1), Iraq (1)||5 titles|
|CAFA (Central Asia)||Iran (3)||3 titles|
|AFF (Southeast Asia)||Australia (1)||1 title|
|SAFF (South Asia)||–||–|
Note: Israel, winner of the 1964 edition, is not included.
National team appearances
Records and statistics
As end of 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
|7||United Arab Emirates||9||36||12||8||16||32||48||–16||48|
Despite being the second oldest continental football tournament, the AFC Asian Cup has suffered numerous criticisms. Criticisms over the inability of the AFC Asian Cup to attract large attendances, political interferences, high costs of traveling between AFC member states and different cultures were highlighted over the Asian Cup.
The AFC Asian Cup is marked with numerous political interferences. This was the case of Israel, as the team used to be a member of the AFC but following Yom Kippur War and increasing tensions against the Arab AFC members, Israel was expelled from the AFC in 1974 and had to compete in OFC until being granted UEFA membership in 1990. Meanwhile, similar cases also exist in other AFC tournaments like the case between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Following the 2016 attack on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, Saudi Arabia has rejected playing with Iran and even threatens to withdraw if the AFC refuses to follow, even extended it to international level; or tensions between two Koreas during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification had led North Korea to withdraw from hosting South Korean team and refusing to display South Korean flag and anthem. As a result, North Korea's home matches were moved to Shanghai.
Low crowds have also been another problems for the AFC Asian Cup. At the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, there had been concerns over low record of crowds due to little football interests and high costs of traveling between Asian nations leading to then-Australia coach Holger Osieck claimed that the Qatar Armed Forces were used to fill up the stadiums simply for aesthetics, while Australia international Brett Holman commented, "Worldwide it's [the Asian Cup] not recognised as a good tournament”.
- Football continental championships
- National team appearances in the AFC Asian Cup
- AFC Women's Asian Cup
- AFC U-23 Championship
- AFC U-19 Championship
- AFC U-16 Championship
- AFC Challenge Cup
- AFC Solidarity Cup
- Asian Games
References and footnotes
- "Australia play for the first time". Asiancup.com.au. Retrieved 2015-05-03.
- "Revamp of AFC competitions". The-afc.com. 25 January 2014. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014.
- "AFC Asian Cup changes set for 2019". Afcasiancup.com. 26 January 2014. Archived from the original on 30 January 2014.
- "Asian Cup: Know Your History - Part One (1956-1988)". Goal.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
- "Asian Cup: Know Your History - Part Two (1992-2007)". Goal.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
- Lampen, Jerry. "Iraq ride wave of support to lift Asian Cup". Reuters. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- "About the IFA". The Israel Football Association. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
- Conor Heffernan (20 November 2014). "The Controversial Case of Israel & International Football". punditarena.com. Pundit Arena. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
- "Saudi-Iranian Tension Extends To Sports – Saudi Arabian Football Federation Announces: We Will Not Play In Iran". memri.org. The Middle East Media Research Institute. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
- Mark Ledsom (7 March 2008). "Koreas match moved to Shanghai after anthem row". Reuters. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
- Chris Paraskevas. "Asian Cup 2011 Comment: Empty Stadiums Hurting Asian Football And Qatar". goal.com. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
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