KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in has sought to impress on FIFA’s Gianni Infantino his country’s enthusiasm for co-hosting the 2030 World Cup finals with neighbours including North Korea.
Moon met FIFA president Infantino on the sidelines of the World U-20 Cup final in Suwon at the weekend when England beat Venezuela 1-0.
Later a statement from his office reported him as saying: “If the neighbouring countries in Northeast 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 Northeast Asia.”
Infantino said he would relay Moon’s suggestions to China’s President Xi Jinping, whom he is due to meet this week.
South Korea staged the World Cup in 2002 jointly with Japan which has also been suggested as a 2030 cohost. Interest has also been expressed by Hong Kong which is a separate international football entity within FIFA.
Timothy Fok, president of the Hong Kong Football Association, has said that the territory would be keen to be involved.
According to the South China Morning Post Fok, who also serves as president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, said that the territory could work with China on a joint bid.
During the 2008 summer Olympic Games in the Chinese capital of Beijing, Hong Kong hosted a number of equestrian events, and Fok thought a similar arrangement could be undertaken for the 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 last month and I was always hint, hint to the Chinese officials … if China got anything, don’t forget Hong Kong.”
An Asian bid would first require FIFA to abandon its rotation rule which bars applications from continents which have hosted the previous two tournaments.
Uruguay, host of the first World Cup in 1930, has expressed an interest in putting together a cohosting bid for 2030 while UEFA president Aleksandr Ceferin recently stated that “2030 is Europe’s turn.”
Infantino, meanwhile, has sought to quell the latest concerns over Qatar’s status as host of the 2022 World Cup finals following the diplomatic storm prompted by a boycott led by the Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain .
FIFA president Gianni Infantino does not believe that the diplomatic crisis which has embroiled 2022 World Cup host nation Qatar will threaten its staging of the tournament, he said on Sunday.
In a weekend interview he expressed confidence in a diplomatic resolution of the row long before the finals in five-and-a-half years’ time, saying: “I am not in the habit of speculating and I’m not going to this time either.”
Infantino added: “The essential role of FIFA, as I understand it, is to deal with football and not to interfere in geopolitics. We are indeed facing a diplomatic crisis but on the other hand, I am confident that the region will return to a normalised situation. The World Cup is in 2022. In five years.
“Obviously, if football can make a small contribution, in any way, to an improvement, I will not hesitate to offer my help.”
Infantino said that FIFA was watching the situation and was in regular contact with the Qatari authorities. FIFA’s ‘helo’ has so far seen it approve a match officials switch so that Qatari officials will no longer the UAE’s match away to Thailand.