Newly re-elected Fifa president Gianni Infantino has said that he will support changes to the governing body’s rules to allow China to bid for the 2030 World Cup.
Fifa presently has a rotation policy in place that prevents the same confederation hosting two out of any three World Cup finals tournaments.
With the 2022 edition set to take place in Qatar, the current rules would not allow China, or any other Asian Football Confederation country, to bid to host a World Cup until 2034.
Speaking at the Fifa Congress in Paris following his unopposed re-election as president, however, Infantino expressed hope that the rules would be changed at the next Fifa Council meeting – which happens to be taking place in Shanghai in October.
“I don’t know if [a Chinese bid] will be possible,” said Infantino. “These decisions are taken by the council, and we will discuss this at our next meeting. But for me, the more the merrier.”
Infantino’s encouraging words towards a Chinese bid lend credence to the widely-held view that Fifa is determined to hold a tournament in the world’s most populous nation, as it looks to take full commercial advantage of the rapidly expanding middle class in the country and its growing interest in football.
The race to stage the 2030 World Cup is set to begin in earnest in the next 12 months, with a final decision likely to be taken at the 2024 Fifa Congress. The tournament will be the 100th anniversary edition, and a multi-nation South American bid led by Uruguay, the host of the first-ever World Cup, has been a long-standing favourite to win the hosting rights.
A British and Irish joint bid is also expected, with the five FAs currently conducting a feasibility study into the strategy and their chances of success.
A Balkan bid, comprising Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia, and an inter-continental proposal from Morocco, Portugal and Spain, are among the other rivals.