Xi meets FIFA chief as China eyes a World Cup bid - China’s latest society and culture news - SupChina

Xi meets FIFA chief as China eyes a World Cup bid – China’s latest society and culture news

On June 14, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing, amid widespread speculation that China is planning to bid for a World Cup in the near future, according to Xinhua.  

Widely known as an avid football fan, Xi said the Chinese government still attaches great significance to the sport’s development, although he noted the huge disparity between China and traditional football powerhouses in terms of both the sport’s domestic popularity and competitiveness of the teams.

Although Chinese state media’s coverage of the talks didn’t include any mention of the World Cup, rumors have been circulated recently that China will apply to host it in either 2030 or 2034. At the Chinese Foreign Ministry regular press conference on June 12, when asked whether China would officially announce a bid for the 2030 World Cup, spokesperson Lu Kang 陆慷 answered (in Chinese), “China certainly wants to seek greater cooperation with FIFA and other countries in the field of football. Hosting the World Cup has been a dream for many Chinese. I also hope that day will come sooner.”

In a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup on June 13, the Chinese national football team tied 2-2 with Syria, leaving the aspiring football giant at the bottom of its Asian qualifying Group A with only two games left. Online, Chinese football fans seemed resigned to the team’s poor performance. One commenter on the social media platform Weibo wrote (in Chinese), “It’s normal for them to lose. But if they win, they will boast about their victory for a year.”

Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.