The FIFA President was received by President Xi at the Great Hall of the People, in China’s capital city. According to FIFA’s website, the Chinese President “spoke highly of the social and educational values of football, and expounded the vision and missions of football development in the most populous country of the world.”
President Xi also told Infantino about China’s blueprint for football, which is basically to ensure that there will be one football pitch for every 10,000 people by 2030.
In the meeting, President Xi Jinping told FIFA boss Gianni Infantino that he hoped that his country could host a World Cup “in the future.” Infantino was quoted as saying this after the meeting;
“I was very honoured to meet with President Xi today and we shared many opinions and ideas about the development of football, not only in China, but throughout the world. Today marks the kick-off of a new and closer cooperation between China and FIFA for the future of football. China will play an important role in improving access to the game and we are grateful to President Xi for his support in this matter. We look forward to many future projects together.”
China is currently at the 82nd spot in FIFA’s world rankings and they may likely miss out on qualification for Russia 2018. Still, President Xi holds high hopes that his country will get to host the world cup someday and also win the sport’s most prestigious trophy.
Why China’s World Cup Ambitions must wait till 2030
Qatar is due to host the 2022 World Cup which means that China cannot host in 2026 due to FIFA’s policy of rotating between host continental governing bodies.
The year 2030 is the closest possibility for China’s world cup ambitions and Chinese Football Association Vice President Zhang Jian, a member of the FIFA Council said last year that he would back a Chinese World Cup in 2030.
China may, however, face stiff competition from Europe’s football governing body, UEFA, which is also eyeing the 2030 tournament. If China fails then, they could look to 2034 instead.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Monday proposed that South Korea should co-host the 2030 FIFA World Cup with North Korea, China, and Japan. According to his Presidential spokesman Park Soo-Hyun, President Moon met with FIFA President Gianni Infantino at Cheong Wa Dae and told him;
“If neighboring Northeast Asian countries can host the World Cup, I think that would contribute to peace between South and North Korea and in Northeast Asia as a whole.”
The FIFA President had promised to see how Chinese President Xi Jinping would react to that plan when they were to meet on Wednesday. The decision on the 2030 World Cup is at least six or seven years off, so we may not hear any conclusive thing, anytime soon.