KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: A decision on the host or hosts of the centenary World Cup will be taken by the congress of world football federation FIFA in 2024.
The decision will alert an increasing number of nations and national associations studying or discussing a bid. FIFA Council decided in Shanghai that the formal bidding ‘campaign’ would be opened between April and June of 2022.
A crucial decision yet to be taken is whether the standard rotation system will apply. In recent years confederations which have hosted the previous two tournaments have been excluded from the next. Thus, despite speculation about China staging the finals, Qatar’s hosting in 2022 would rule out an Asian bid.
However FIFA is keen to promote the game in China whose major corporations have come on board with World Cup sponsorship in a big way.
The e-commerce giant Alibaba was the first big new sponsor to show its faith by signing up with FIFA in the wake of the 2015 corruption scandal. Subsequently the Wanda Group properties giant came on board while last year’s World Cup partners included TV and fridge maker Hisense, smartphone developer Vivo, and dairy firm Mengniu.
The first expression of informal interest in 2030 came from Uruguay – first host in 1930 – in tandem with Argentina. Later neighbours Paraguay and Chile joined the group with a view to a four-way co-hosting.
Further South American cohosting interest has been raised by politicians in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
A second regional bid would only split support and make it even more difficult for a South American campaign to raise the necessary majority of votes in FIFA Congress.
The only other serious bid in the offing is from the five British and Irish associations.
England is carrying out a feasibility study along with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, while the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania and the president of Serbia have signalled an interest in a joint Balkan bid.
In June, the federations of Spain and Portugal said they would consider a joint bid after a North African proposal for them to join with Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia was ruled out of court by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
Spain previously staged the World Cup in 1982, when Italy beat West Germany to win the title. Portugal has never hosted the quadrennial tournament, which in 2030 will feature 48 teams.
Morocco could yet make a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup with Tunisia and Algeria, who have also expressed an interest in hosting the tournament. Morocco has made five failed bids to stage the event, most recently losing out on the 2026 edition to the North American trio of the United States, Mexico and Canada.
In other decisions FIFA Council approved the increased investment of $1bn in women’s football over 2019-2022 cycle, appointed 2021 hostings by Indonesia of the U-20 World Cup, Peru of the U-17 World Cup and Russia of the Beach Soccer World Cup. FIFA Congress in 2021 will be in Tokyo.
FIFA Council decisions statement:
The FIFA Council convened today in Shanghai and voted on a number of key steps for the future of international tournaments, including a unanimous decision to appoint China PR as the host of the first edition of the new FIFA Club World Cup in 2021.
The tournament will be played between June and July 2021 and the final list of venues will be decided by FIFA and the Chinese FA.
The participation model to determine the clubs that qualify from each confederation will be finalised in a consultation process between FIFA and the six confederations.
Other key decisions
The members of the FIFA Council also received an update from CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and from FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura on the progress made within CAF since Ms Samoura’s appointment as the FIFA General Delegate for Africa, on 1 August 2019.
Meeting no. 12 of the FIFA Council is scheduled for 12-13 March in Asunción, Paraguay.