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Tom Watt: China needs 15 years to land World Cup

By Ifeng, editing and transaltion by Yutang Sports 01 Jun 2015

The following opinion is translated from with Tom Watt as the contributor.

Sepp Blatter won the reelection as the president of FIFA, marking the 79-year-old fifth term at the heading position of FIFA. Despite scandals that have jeopardized the presence of FIFA, the election result still shows Blatter is currently one of the most powerful man among many countries in the perspective of football.

One of his contribution to the development of the sport lies in the empowerment by him and FIFA to land FIFA World Cup in the new continents including Asia and Africa.

And there is still a new continent where World Cup has never landed, it would be nowhere else if it was not China. No matter it is grassroots football or professional football, the rapidly developing China eagers the rise of the sport as it is an ideal place for international football with money and influence. But here comes the question: when on earth will China win the right to hold FIFA World Cup?

It appears that it will take at least 15 years for China to bid for World Cup as FIFA regulates candidates would not be qualified if any country, with which in the same continent, has ever hosted the World CUP within 4 years. In other worlds, China theoretically can’t apply for the 2026 World Cup due to fact that Qatar will hold the event in 2022.

Although 15 years are bit too long for China which is on the track of high-speed development, it won’t decrease the passion of Chinese to prepare for the World Cup. Let’s take South Africa as an example, the African country lost to Germany in bidding for 2006 FIFA World Cup but won the right to hold the event immediately in 2010. That is to say South Africa took another 4 years to update preparations including fundamental constructions and operations to persuade the voters to land FIFA World CUP in Africa for the first time. This has enlighten China to take advantage of the time to be a competitive contender for the World Cup holding place.

But it will never be an easy job for a country to prepare for hosting World Cup since it is either expensive or complicated. For China, the main focus will remains on the sport itself if they want to be a competitive candidate. Particularly, the level of domestic leagues and youths players will be decisive despite that match fixing and corruption, which harm the sport deeply, could be eliminated by strong means.

The strategy, with questions that whether to rely on international stars or youths players, to operate the league will be of great importance to the level of national teams. In 2004 AFC Cup, China had a brilliant tour even though losing to Japan in the final. And China has speeded up to purchase football entities internationally as well. For instance, Chinese consortium are currently busy with talking to take over Premier League club Aston Villa. It raise questions that what if the money would be used to boost the sport within China.  

It is fair to say that China has the ability to host a top sporting event of this level with the experience of Beijing 2008 Olympics Games. And Blatter has shared views, on several occasions, that China to hold FIFA World Cup will be an irresistible trend. Additionally, China’s desire to play in World Cup has been empowered by President Xi Jinpin’s ambitious speech.

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