China eye World Cup bid but non-committal on whether 2030 or 2034

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May 19 – Zhang Jian, China’s newly elected FIFA council member, says a World Cup bid from his country will come “sooner or later” but has declined to specify when.

Under FIFA’s partial rotation rules, 2034 would be the first realistic slot for China though an exception could be made if there is no suitable non-Asian candidate for 2030.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is an avid football fan and has spoken of his desire for the country to qualify for another World Cup since their first and only appearance at the 2002 finals, then to host a World Cup, and to eventually win one.

Meanwhile Chinese Super League clubs continue to splash out huge sums to lure overseas coaches and players.

“A World Cup bid can be said to come sooner or later, because it is written in black and white in the ‘Chinese football overall reform and development programme’,” Zhang, general secretary of the Chinese Football Association, was quoted as saying at the World Football Forum in Changsha, Hunan.

“But as for the specific bid for which World Cup, it must be based on a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of the situation. At the same time the World Cup bid is also a national project – it’s not just the Chinese Football Association that can decide such a thing; we will base it on the development of the situation … it’s a major [project] that we will seriously study.”

Zhang said his election to the 37-member FIFA Council could only benefit the region.

“(My appointment) happened as part of the bigger picture of China’s football reform and development, and it means in the future Chinese football, world football and Asian football can eventually be integrated in a good way. Chinese football can provide more opportunities and motivation to Asian and world football.

“Asia is the biggest continent but the level of Asian football is not consistent with its scale. It is relatively poor in the world. However, Asian football has a lot of potential, considering its geographical size, population and market.”

Chung Mong-gyu, South Korean FA president and also elected by Asian nations to the FIFA council in Bahrain last week, has suggested that his country Japan, China – and possibly even North Korea – could team up to jointly bid for 2030.

“If South Korea, China, and Japan decide to stage the World Cup, it can be really appealing to others in terms of financial conditions,” he said though such a plan would be highly unlikely given that South Korea and Japan co-hosted in 2002.

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