Japan fear China biggest obstacle to 2030

Japan has expressed concern that China could steamroll future World Cup bids after losing out to Qatar in the race to host the 2022 finals.

Senior Japanese officials said they would bounce back after tasting defeat in Thursday's FIFA vote but acknowledged potential Chinese bids could complicate matters.

"There is no doubt China would be a very tough rival for future bids," Japan Football Association (JFA) vice president Kuniya Daini told Reuters on Friday.

China's football chief Wei Di was quoted by the country's state-run Xinhua news agency on Thursday as saying it was "only a matter of time" before the Chinese launched a World Cup bid.

Japan spent an estimated $100 million on its 2022 bid - nine times less than for 2002 - but China's economic strength would give it a clear edge over its Asian rivals.

Under FIFA rules, Asia's next opportunity to bid for the World Cup would be 2030 at the earliest, at which point China's interest could undermine Japanese ambitions.

"We knew it would be tough," Daini said of the 2022 process. "But we have set a target to stage the World Cup alone by 2050 so we will be back."

Japan successfully co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea, who reached the semi-finals of that tournament and were also bidding for the rights to stage 2022.

Daini cast doubt on FIFA's decision to select Qatar as hosts for the 2022 World Cup.

"I'm surprised at the outcome," he said. "I'm not sure what was good about their bid but obviously they had some extra factor that we didn't.

"Qatar is a difficult environment to stage the world's top tournament but it is a chance for Asia to take the game to another level.

"There was nothing wrong with Japan's bid. We scored highly in the FIFA evaluation reports and it was not because we did anything wrong that we lost out."

Daini added: "We have successfully staged the 2002 finals and put together a great bid this time so I'm confident we can bring the World Cup back to Japan."

Daini admitted Japan and South Korea may have jumped the gun on bidding again so soon after 2002.

"We had heard that said before and perhaps that was the case," he said. "We did everything we could and will be able to make a more compelling case in the future."