China keen to bid for 2026 World Cup

BEIJING - China is lining up a bid for the 2026 World Cup after witnessing the success enjoyed by hosts South Africa at this year's tournament, local media reported on Friday.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) would soon submit a request to the General Administration of Sports (GAS), the sports ministry, for approval to proceed with a formal bid, according to the CFA head Wei Di.

"We are so impressed by the great benefits the World Cup has brought to South Africa," Wei told the Beijing Youth Daily. "In South Africa, I saw how a World Cup could unite a country and improve its football."

Wei, who had previously said China would not attempt to bid in the near future due to its low level of play, noted that his experience at the South Africa finals had changed his mind.

"There have been many debates on whether China should host a World Cup, or when to host it. After the tournament succeeded in South Africa, I have to admit, China has no reason not to have a World Cup. And now is the time," he said.

Wei said China was fully capable of staging a World Cup in terms of stadiums, service and organising ability, adding that there was strong public enthusiasm for sport, with the 2008 Beijing Olympics serving as a successful example.

The Chinese team failed to qualify for South Africa and is currently number 78 in the FIFA world rankings.

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