An Argentina-Uruguay bid for 2030 Cup?

ASUNCION (Paraguay) • Gianni Infantino, the head of football's world governing body (Fifa), has tentatively backed a joint World Cup bid by Argentina and Uruguay.

He suggested that the history of the two South American nations made them serious candidates to host the tournament in 2030.

Infantino, elected to run Fifa last month, was speaking during a visit to the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol)'s headquarters in Paraguay.

Fifa held one joint World Cup in Japan and South Korea in 2002 but has since come out against future joint bids.

However, Infantino told Conmebol officials that he was not against co-hosting the tournament.

"An important theme is whether the World Cup can be played in more than one country," he said.

"Fifa has been very much against a joint organisation. I personally support it - 2030 is a very important year and history must be respected."

CO-HOSTING POSSIBLE AGAIN

Fifa has been very much against a joint organisation. I personally support it - 2030 is a very important year and history must be respected.

GIANNI INFANTINO, Fifa chief, on the joint World Cup bid by Argentina and Uruguay.

Uruguay were awarded the first World Cup in 1930 and beat Argentina 4-2 in the final. They also won the World Cup in 1950, upsetting hosts Brazil in the deciding match.

Argentina staged and won the tournament in 1978 and eight years later, Diego Maradona led them to their second title in Mexico.

The two countries have over the past few years expressed a wish at both football association and government levels to stage the centennial tournament.

Conmebol, which threw its support behind Infantino ahead of the presidential election, has been hit hard by the recent Fifa corruption scandal with its last three presidents and officials from all 10 member nations among those indicted.

On Monday, former Honduras president Rafael Callejas pleaded guilty to US charges that he participated in bribery schemes that are under investigation at Fifa.

Callejas, who is also the former president of the Honduran football federation, admitted in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, that he sought bribes in connection with awarding media and marketing rights for World Cup qualifiers.

"I knew that it was wrong for me to ask for and accept such undisclosed payments," he said in court.

The 72-year-old, who pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy, agreed as part of a plea deal to forfeit US$650,000 (S$889,400).

Sentencing was set for Aug 5 and the charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years each.

Callejas is one of 39 officials and marketing executives accused of soliciting and receiving tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks in a case that has sparked an unprecedented crisis at Fifa.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'An Argentina-Uruguay bid for 2030 Cup?'. Print Edition | Subscribe