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China set to go head-to-head with US for 2026 World Cup

By Chen Yaping 02 Mar 2016

According to Mark Dreyer of the Global Times, the US is the presumed front-runner to host the 2026 World Cup. It was thought that their main rivals would also be from North America as both Mexico and Canada have previously expressed their interest. However, the strongest competition could come from China, which has long stated its desire to host the tournament.

Current FIFA regulations prevent AFC members, of which China is one, from bidding for the 2026 World Cup, since Qatar - another AFC member - will host the 2022 event.

As the new FIFA leadership settles in, the bidding process rules may be changed, which could open the door to a Chinese bid for 2026.

Beijing is pushing grass-roots reform of the sport, the Chinese Super League is showing its marketing value (following an improved TV deal) and Chinese tech giant Alibaba is sponsoring the FIFA Club World Cup. These are all signs pointing to when - not if - China will host the World Cup.

New FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, has pledged to increase the number of teams from 32 to 40, meaning China's chances of taking part would be that much greater.

Source: Global Times

Proofread by John Devlin.

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