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China targets hosting of 2030 FIFA World Cup

China targets hosting of 2030 FIFA World Cup
September 30, 2016

A top Chinese football official has urged world football governing body FIFA to realise the 'dream' of China’s football fans by bringing the World Cup to the nation in 2030 - or possibly sooner.

Chinese Football Association Vice President Zhang Jian said FIFA’s policy of rotating World Cup tournaments between continents probably ruled out a return to Asia in 2026, after Qatar hosts the event in 2022.

While Zhang suggested that it would "not (be) very easy” for China to hold the FIFA World Cup in 2026, he did not rule it out, saying that the final decision would be up to FIFA, with whom Chinese interests, including the Dalian Wanda Group, have increasingly close ties.

Speaking at an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) extraordinary congress in Goa, India, this week, Zhang stated "every Chinese football fan has a dream - to host a World Cup in China,.

“According to (the FIFA) charter it’s not very easy for us to get 2026 (but I) hope it can be here sooner, but FIFA has their charter and we follow their decisions.

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.

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 is currently ranked 78th, sandwiched between St Kitts and Nevis and Guatemala, although it is still 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.

With a new-found love of the game, Chinese football has made huge strides in recent years with growth of its domestic league, whose lavishly financed clubs are attracting top players and managers.

Moving away from a past dogged by corruption and match-fixing, Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs have spent over US$400 million on players this year.

Zhang said the CSL now wanted to reach the level of the top divisions of Europe and was also confident that China’s growing legion of foreign players would help the national team, rather than hinder the development of home-grown talent.

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