Sydney: Australian football officials remain confident in their bid for the 2022 World Cup despite reports that China wants to host the 2026 tournament.
There is little likelihood of Asian countries hosting two World Cups in succession, which means any formal bid from China would put enormous pressure on 2022 bids by Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea.
Football Federation Australia said it was confident China’s interest in hosting the 2026 tournament would not impact on its chances.
“We can’t and don’t really want to comment directly about whatever anyone else may or may not be doing,” an FFA spokesman told The Australian newspaper on Tuesday.
“However, we are very confident that we have a compelling case to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“Our bid is complete. it has been submitted and is supported by full government guarantees and we will be promoting it up until the decision by FIFA on December 2.
“We know we have a lot of competition but we believe we are a safe pair of hands in Asia and have a fantastic record of holding huge events including the best Olympics ever in Sydney in 2000,” he added.
“Australia is the only continent yet to hold a World Cup and by providing us the honour of hosting one would be a huge benefit to all of Asia and Oceania.”
Wei Di, head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), has said China has been inspired by the success of the tournament in South Africa.
“It really moved us to see all the social benefits South Africa got from hosting the World Cup,” Wei told the nation’s leading sports newspaper Titan Sports earlier this week.
“The CFA is preparing to ask the General Administration of Sport to bid for the 2026 World Cup,” he was quoted as saying.
“Everyone has been debating whether China should bid for the World Cup or when to bid, but seeing how successfully South Africa hosted it, I have to say that China has no reason not to bid and now is the best time.”
China did not qualify for this year’s World Cup in South Africa. Its only appearance in football’s global showcase came in 2002.
The bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is currently under way, and the winners will be announced by the sport’s governing body FIFA on December 2.