Football: China set sights on hosting 2030 World Cup

Chinese fans carrying a huge national flag during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between South Korea and China in Seoul on Sept 1, 2016.
Chinese fans carrying a huge national flag during the 2018 World Cup qualifying football match between South Korea and China in Seoul on Sept 1, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Panaji, India (AFP) - 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 Tuesday.

"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 centring 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 Tuesday in protest at Fifa's decision to bar a Qatari candidate.

A reorganised poll is expected early next year.