South Korea moots co-hosted 2030 World Cup as Infantino heads for China

By Samindra Kunti

June 13 – South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, has suggested North Korea could be part of a bid to co-host the 2030 World Cup. Moon (pictured) is trying to foster a dialogue with the isolated North Koreans.

In a meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Moon said that several countries in north-east Asia, including North Korea, could form a bloc to share hosting duties for the tournament. Moon made the proposal during a meeting with Infantino at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, according to the Korean president’s office

The FIFA president visited South Korea to attend the culmination of the U20 World Cup, which England won after an entertaining final against Venezuela. For England it was a first World Cup victory at any FIFA competition since 1996.

“If the neighbouring countries in north-east Asia, including North and South Korea, can host the World Cup together, it would help to create peace in North and South Korea as well as north-east Asia,” said the South Korean president’s spokesperson Park Su-hyun.

“I would like President Infantino to have interests on this matter.”

Moon is a liberal president and wants an open dialogue with his neighbors, but North Korea have given little sign of encouragement towards the new wind that is blowing in Seoul. They have conducted missile tests instead at an unprecedented pace in defiance of global sanctions.

Infantino said he will take the idea with him to Beijing and relay Moon’s proposal as he is scheduled to visit Chinese president Xi Jinping on Wednesday. Infantino will be welcomed at the Great Hall of the People in Tianamen Square in the Chinese capital, as speculation grows that China wants to bid for the 2030 World Cup.

“We hope we can strengthen our cooperation on football with international organisations, including FIFA, and also with other countries,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang. “As to whether China will host the World Cup, this is a dream shared by many Chinese.”

Chinese companies have courted FIFA with heavy investments. Smartphone provider Vivo, electronics maker Hisense and Dalian Wanda Group – have all signed sponsorship deals with FIFA in the past year.

At present FIFA rules, however, don’t allow China and South Korea to bid for the 2030 World Cup as no Asian country can bid until 2034 at the earliest as Qatar is staging the competition in 2022. Last month FIFA’s rotation policy was discussed at the governing body’s congress in Bahrain, but the FIFA statutes weren’t changed.

South Korea’s intentions put the bidding process for the 2030 World Cup firmly in the spotlight. Previously Uruguay and Argentina have also expressed a keen interest in staging the game’s flagship event to mark the 100-year anniversary of the first World Cup in 1930.

Earlier this month Aleksander Ceferin threw his weight behind a European bid for 2030. UEFA would ‘fight’ to host the tournament in 2030, according to the Slovenian.

Čeferin has stated that the “regulations are clear – you cannot bid for the next two World Cups” regarding an Asian bid.

“I think it’s Europe’s turn in 2030, clearly,” said Ceferin.

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