When will China bid for World Cup

Updated: 2015-03-03 16:20


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BEIJING - For hundreds of millions of Chinese soccer fans including President Xi Jinping, hosting a World Cup is the most common wish. But a consensus is yet to be reached on when to lodge a bid.

In 2010, then Chinese soccer chief Wei Di proposed to bid for the 2026 World Cup but the idea was dropped due to lack of government support.

But after an "overall soccer reform plan" was approved on Friday by China's central reform group, chaired by President Xi, talks about World Cup bid went rife again.

"It will probably hasten China's race for a World Cup," said Ding Changbao, head of the Football Association of Zhidan, a county in Northwest China's Shaanxi province.

Ding had met Xi last year when the Chinese president took time during his first state visit to Germany to watch a junior game in Berlin between Germans and young players from Zhidan.

Song Jixin, sports chief of Jilin, believes that China will benefit "in many aspects" from being a World Cup host.

"Apart from making profits, staging the World Cup will be a great boost to Chinese soccer," he said.

Song's view was echoed by Jin Shan, director of sports culture at the Beijing Institute of Social Sciences.

"Japan and South Korea set a good example for China as the jointly-held 2002 World Cup helped raise the standard of their own game," said Jin.

While pundits believe China should bid soon, others fear that poor play from their national team would take gloss off the host country.

"Judging from the current standard of the Chinese team, they are very likely to be eliminated after the group stage even if China qualify for the World Cup finals as the host country. So what's the difference (from not bidding)?" a fan wrote in his blog.

Gregorio Manzano, head coach of Chinese Super League side Beijing Guo'an, had a different opinion.

"China should not wait any longer to bid for the World Cup. Hosting a World Cup will be a good chance to improve Chinese soccer," said Manzano, who had successful stints in Spanish clubs including Malloca and Atletico Madrid.

"You should not care about win or lose, the most important thing is participating.

"Spain hosted the 1982 World Cup and didn't win the trophy, but that experience boosted the development of their league and cultivation of talents," added the 58-year-old Spaniard.

Song, Jilin sports head, also criticized the results-oriented mentality. "We should not be obsessed with the results any more. It will add to the burden on the team," he said.

The Chinese men's team qualified for the World Cup only once - in 2002, when they were eliminated at the group stage without scoring a single goal.

President Xi, an avid soccer fan, is apparently unpleased with the national team's play. Stating his personal ambitions for China in 2011, he listed three, all about soccer: To qualify for the World Cup again, to host the event and finally, to win it someday.