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Asian Cup expansion sparks debate

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm •  Published: January 27, 2014

A proposal to expand the Asian Cup to 24 teams has sparked a debate among the region's football bodies, with commercial and developmental considerations on one side, and on the other a fear that it will dilute the quality of the competition.

The Asian Football Confederation's Competitions Committee recommended on the weekend that the quadrennial tournament be expanded from 16 to 24 teams.

Advocates say it will increase the likelihood that big commercial markets like China, India and Southeast Asian nations would be involved in the tournament, while also fast-tracking the development of smaller nations by exposing them to higher-quality opponents.

The more powerful nations of Asia are concerned it will damage their teams' development to play against minnow nations, and harm the Asian Cup's image as an elite competition.