China pushes for 2030 tour­na­ment

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

A TOP Chi­nese foot­ball of­fi­cial has urged FIFA to re­alise the “dream” of China’s fans by bring­ing the World Cup to the gi­ant Asian na­tion in 2030 – or even sooner.

Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion vice pres­i­dent Zhang Jian said FIFA’s ro­ta­tion pol­icy prob­a­bly ruled out a re­turn to Asia in 2026, af­ter Qatar hosts the World Cup in 2022.

Zhang told AFP that “it’s not very easy” for China to hold the World Cup in 2026. But he said the fi­nal de­ci­sion was up to world body FIFA.

“Ev­ery Chi­nese foot­ball fan has a dream – to host a World Cup in China,” Zhang said in an in­ter­view in Goa, where an Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) ex­tra­or­di­nary congress was aborted on Septem­ber 27.

“Ac­cord­ing to their char­ter it’s not very easy for us to get 2026 ... I of course hope it can be here sooner, but FIFA has their char­ter and we fol­low their de­ci­sions,” added Zhang.

Rus­sia will host the next World Cup in 2018, be­fore Qatar in 2022, with China, the world’s most pop­u­lous na­tion and sec­ond-big­gest econ­omy, keen to fol­low soon af­ter.

With Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ea­ger to host and even win foot­ball’s big­gest tour­na­ment, con­jec­ture is cen­tre­ing on when rather than if the World Cup will go to China.

Host­ing the World Cup looks far more re­al­is­tic than win­ning the com­pe­ti­tion, as China’s sole ap­pear­ance in 2002 ended with­out a sin­gle point or even a goal.

China’s na­tional team are cur­rently ranked 78th, sand­wiched be­tween St Kitts and Ne­vis and Gu­atemala, al­though they re­main in the run­ning to reach Rus­sia 2018.

Zhang could be in line for a pow­er­ful voice in FIFA as he is stand­ing for a seat on the body’s new coun­cil, which has re­placed the scan­dal-prone ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

The AFC aborted elec­tions to the coun­cil on Septem­ber 27 in protest at FIFA’s de­ci­sion to bar a Qatari can­di­date. A re­or­gan­ised poll is ex­pected early next year.

Chi­nese foot­ball has made huge strides in re­cent years ow­ing to the rise of its do­mes­tic league, whose lav­ishly fi­nanced clubs are at­tract­ing top play­ers and man­agers.

Chi­nese Su­per League clubs have spent just over 400 mil­lion eu­ros (US$447 mil­lion) on play­ers this year, lur­ing stars like Liver­pool tar­get Alex Teix­eira.

Zhang said the Chi­nese Su­per League now wanted to reach the level of the top di­vi­sions of Europe, which re­main the world’s lead­ing foot­ball com­pe­ti­tions.

‘Ev­ery Chi­nese foot­ball fan has a dream – to host a World Cup in China. Ac­cord­ing to their char­ter it’s not very easy for us to get 2026. I hope it can be here sooner.’

Zhang Jian

Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion VP

“We have at­tracted a lot of play­ers to the Chi­nese Su­per League and com­pa­nies have in­vested so much money,” said Zhang.

Zhang was also con­fi­dent that China’s grow­ing le­gion of for­eign play­ers would help the na­tional team, rather than hin­der the de­vel­op­ment of homegrown tal­ent.

“China’s na­tional team is a prob­lem. Ob­vi­ously we haven’t been very good over the past few years,” said Zhang.

“But the Su­per League is a very im­por­tant base for the na­tional team and you can no­tice we’re try­ing to build our na­tional team bet­ter,” he added.

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