A Beijing sports official has revealed that the city is going to push to
bring the FIFA 2014 World Cup to China's capital city.
Sun Kanglin, director of Beijing Sports Bureau, said the city will bid for
the football extravaganza as part of the city's 11th Five-year Plan (2006-11),
together with other bids including an NBA (National Basketball Association)
pre-season game next year and the World Swimming Championships in 2011.
"Beijing's sports market won't go cold after the 2008 Olympics as we have
expressed our willingness to the Chinese Football Association (CFA)," he said in
a statement. "We want this top event to come to Beijing."
The CFA has not commented on the announcement.
Sun's plan was greeted with scepticism by fans. According to a poll conducted
by sohu.com, one of China's leading portal websites, 87 per cent of respondents
believe the move is a "mission impossible."
Respondents cited the fact that a single city is unable to hold the whole
event as bidding is only open to countries, not cities. A total of 12 cities
co-hosted the tournament in Germany this summer, while 10 cities in South Korea
and Japan helped stage the event in 2002.
Others said a 2014 bid was impossible as the World Cup is rotated among the
six continents. It was held in Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010, and it
will be South America's turn in 2014. Brazil and Colombia have already
officially joined the bidding race.
"I think it's absolute nonsense," a fan was quoted as saying. "It cannot
return to Asia that soon, that's for sure."
Adding to the challenge is the humiliating performance of China's men's
football team, which has appeared to go backwards in the past four years.
They made it to the World Cup finals in 2002, but they lost all three group
matches and failed to score a goal. In 2005 the team were beaten into the second
round of Asian qualification for the 2006 World Cup by Bahrain.
At the Asian Football Cup next year they are for the first time listed as a
third level team by the Asian Football Confederation, alongside Jordan and Iraq.
"We need to wait, at least until we are good enough to enter the 32-team
finals, otherwise the bid is a joke," another netizen said.
However, some fans were supportive of the bid, describing it as a rehearsal
for the 2018 World Cup or one even further in the future. The event is scheduled
to return to Asia in 2018.
"I think for a country which has hosted the Olympic Games, to bid for the
World Cup is not a bad thing," one fan said on sohu.com. "We will be a perfect
sports event host nation after the Beijing Games. We'll have the best stadiums
and the best sports service, so I believe we will be first choice for the 2018
"Why don't we make the 2014 bid just a test, so we can see how the rest of
the world reacts to our move?"
He added the experience in hosting the Asian Cup in 2004 and the Women's
World Cup next year will help the bid.
In addition, FIFA President Sepp Blatter threw his support behind China
hosting the World Cup after the country successfully hosted the Asian Cup in
"China's growth as an economic super power makes the country a firm favourite
to stage the next World Cup to be held in Asia, probably in 2018," he said in
Rumours of a possible bid first began in March during the World Cup Trophy
tour in Beijing, but these were denied by the CFA.