Huge blow to England: Speculation of 2030 China World Cup bid

4 June 2019

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Photo: Getty Images China is expected to pitch for the 2030 World Cup.
Pictured is Antoine Griezmann of France are seen with the trophy during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia

Speculation of Chinese-Korean carve up. That bid could be a big blow to England.

Mystery reappearance of former FIFA grandee.

China to host 2023 Asian Championships.

James Corbett corbett@offthepitch.com

PARIS - South Korea has emerged as an unlikely frontrunner to host the inaugural expanded Club World Cup in 2021, with China expected to pitch for the 2030 World Cup.

Speaking earlier today, the Asian Football Confederation President, Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrhaim-al Khalifa said that he expected the 2021 tournament to be hosted in Asia, with Japan, South Korea and China likely candidates.

Salman added that the AFC would also back a single host for the 2030 World Cup. That bidder is likely to be China. Such a rival bid would be a huge blow to England, who have been lobbying behind the scenes to host the 2030 tournament for the past two years.

Asian carve up

At the AFC Congress earlier this morning, China was elected unopposed as host of the 2023 AFC Championships after Korea withdrew its bid.

This fueled speculation that a deal had been reached whereby the Chinese in return would subsequently withdraw from the running for the 2021 tournament and support Korea’s bid for the Club World Cup.

The expanded Club World Cup, which will be piloted in 2021, is at the heart of Infantino’s vision for control of international club competition.  It pits FIFA in a four way battle with UEFA, the European Club Association (ECA) and European Leagues body, who are all vying for a leading role in this sphere, and the trial was approved despite intense opposition and threats of boycotts from UEFA and European clubs. 

Despite these threats, it is expected that seven European clubs will compete in the tournament, and given England’s recent pre-eminence in European club football, several of these could come from the EPL.

Infantino’s vision for a $25billion tournament was said to be backed by a Japanese-Saudi consortium, Softbank, although these backers have seemingly disappeared from view for now.

Mystery guest

Speculation about South Korea’s possible hosting role increased following the Congress, where Dr Chung mong-Joon, scion of the Hyundai family and former FIFA power broker, unexpectedly appeared on the front row with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his secretary general, Fatma Samoura.

Chung was a FIFA vice president for 17 years until January 2011 and is credited for bringing the 2002 World Cup to South Korea as joint hosts. Many tipped him as a potential successor to Sepp Blatter, but his ambitions were ended by Prince Ali Bin Hussein’s 2011 electoral challenge for his FIFA vice presidency.

A subsequent attempt to stand as FIFA president in 2015 was shot down after he was banned from football for five years for ethics violations relating to Korea’s unsuccessful 2022 World Cup bid; a ban that was later annulled following a protest to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Chung’s apparent rehabilitation comes as his nephew, Chung Mong-gyu, the current president of the Korean FA assumes and President of the East Asian Football Federation and emerges as one of a new generation of Asian football power brokers.