SEOUL: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said the country could join forces with neighbouring North Korea in a joint bid for the Fifa 2030 World Cup, while Hong Kong has expressed an interest in joining China in its effort to land hosting rights to a future edition of the national football team tournament.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Moon proposed the idea during a meeting with Gianni Infantino, president of football’s global governing body Fifa. As well as North and South Korea, Moon said the bid could feature other smaller nations from the north-east Asian region.
South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with Japan and this year also staged the Fifa Under-20 World Cup, which concluded yesterday (Sunday).
Park Su-hyun, a spokesperson for Moon, said it is the president’s belief that a successful bid could “help to create peace” between North and South Korea. The two nations have technically been at war since 1950 as a peace treaty was not signed after the Korean War, which ran from June 1950 to July 1953.
“If the neighbouring countries in north-east Asia, including North and South Korea, can host the World Cup together, it would help to create peace in North and South Korea as well as north-east Asia,” Park said. “I would like president Infantino to have interests on this matter.”
Moon was elected as president of South Korea last month and has openly stated his desire to have more dialogue with the North. However, North Korea is yet to respond and has instead opted to push on with missile tests in defiance of global sanctions.
Meanwhile, Timothy Fok, president of the Hong Kong Football Association, has said that the territory would be keen to be involved with any potential bid by China to host a future World Cup.
Although China is yet to confirm any official plans, the country has been heavily linked with a bid after a huge increase in the amount being invested in football. In April, Chinese authorities unveiled a strategy to establish the country as one of the world’s strongest footballing nations by 2050, with plans to achieve a series of short, medium and long-terms goals.
According to the South China Morning Post newspaper, Fok, who also serves as president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, said that the territory could work with China on a joint bid like other countries around the world have done.
During the 2008 summer Olympic Games in the Chinese capital of Beijing, Hong Kong was selected to host a number of equestrian events, and Fok said a similar arrangement could be put in place for football’s World Cup.
Fok said: “There is a trend now to combine hosting for major football events, like the United States bidding for the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.
“Beijing was very generous when they allowed Hong Kong to host the equestrian events and I remember my International Olympic Committee colleagues were very impressed by Hong Kong, not only with its facilities but its administration and how it organised the event.
“I was at the Fifa Congress in Bahrain and I was always hint, hint to the Chinese officials … if China got anything, don’t forget Hong Kong.”
However, Hong Kong’s inclusion in any potential bid could rest on a new stadium project in the territory. Plans are in place to build a venue on the site of the city’s old airport at Kai Tak in Kowloon, and Fok has called on the new government to back the development.
Fok added: “I hope the new administration passes the stadium and makes Hong Kong a truly international city. And I’m sure sports can play a significant role in bringing the community together.”