Chinese President Xi Jinping told FIFA president Gianni Infantino he hoped the nation could host a World Cup “in the future,” the governing body for world soccer said on Wednesday after the two met in Beijing.
Xi, an avid soccer fan, has launched an ambitious drive to improve Chinese soccer from the ground up and spoken of his hope for the nation to qualify for another World Cup, host the tournament and eventually win it.
China has invested heavily in the sport in recent years, boosting its domestic league by signing a number of high-profile, international players and coaches.
In a statement, FIFA said Xi and Infantino’s meeting centered on soccer’s popularity in China and the government’s commitment to improving access to the game.
“In addition, the Chinese President expressed his hope, and the dream of many Chinese people, that the country would have the opportunity to host a FIFA Men’s World Cup at some stage in the future,” it said.
Chinese state media outlets, which are tightly controlled by the government and especially so when reporting the official activities of senior Chinese Communist Party leaders, did not report Xi’s World Cup comment.
Nevertheless, speculation has grown that China wishes to launch a bid for either the 2030 or 2034 tournaments.
China’s 82nd-ranked national team have qualified only once for the World Cup, losing all three matches and failing to score a goal in the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.
Their failure to return to the finals has long frustrated local fans.
China are all but certain to miss out on qualifying for next year’s tournament in Russia after a late goal by Syria saw them finish with a 2-2 draw on Tuesday.
“There is still a very large disparity in the general standard of China’s football today compared to major footballing nations,” state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying in his meeting with Infantino.
“The true meaning of football is not just about competition, it is more about cultivating people’s patriotism and collective fighting spirit,” it said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there