BY TOM MANN
The ACL Asian Cup in Australia next year will strengthen Australian political ties with Asia and the Arabic region, ACL Cup officials have told the G20 Summit in Brisbane.
“I think sport opens doors. It’s not apolitical [and] it gives people the opportunity to talk over a different forum,” ACL CEO Michael Brown said.
“I’ve met visiting ambassadors and when they talk to people, they are talking about sport.”
Countries such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea have qualified for the 16-team championship spanning two weeks with an expected 800 million viewers worldwide for each match.
“In 2006, 80 million people played soccer and football around Asia, and that is expected to grow to 380 million by 2020.”
“This is an opportunity for us to connect with our partners in Asia, and of course just like the G20, we will attract 3,500 accredited media to our shores,” Mr Brown told Wednesday’s G20 conference..
“Many of the 45 thousand people expected to visit Australia for the event will want to come to Queensland,” Tourism panel member Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said.
The ACL Asian Cup will commence on January 9 with Australia versus Kuwait at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium. Matches will also be held in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Newscastle.