By Michael Church
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian football’s governing body has confirmed Hong Kong is among the contenders to host Asian Champions League and AFC Cup matches as the city's government is considering relaxing the strict 21-day quarantine requirements to stage the fixtures.
In a statement to Reuters on Sunday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed a report that appeared in Sunday’s South China Morning Post that Hong Kong had lodged a bid to hold matches in the Asia-wide club competitions.
“As many as 21 participating member associations, including the Hong Kong Football Association, have indicated their interest to host the 2021 club competitions' group stage matches,” the statement said.
“The expressions of interest from member associations range from hosting the group matches which include their participating teams, to hosting matches for both the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup.
“The AFC is currently reviewing the submissions and will announce the hosts for both club competitions in due course.”
The report in the South China Morning Post said Hong Kong's Home Affairs Bureau "fully backed" a proposal from the city's football association to submit a bid to host matches.
Hong Kong's mandatory quarantine is one of the strictest in the world and a travel ban is also in place which prevents players and officials from coming into the Chinese city.
Hong Kong is seeking to host games in the Asian Champions League and the AFC Cup, a second-tier club competition, after the AFC requested bids having decided to play the early phase of the competition in a series of centralised groups due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hong Kong's Home Affairs Bureau has yet to respond to Reuters request for comment.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Additional reporting by Donny Kwok, editing by Pritha Sarkar)