The Chinese government has promised to back a bidto host the 2014 World Cup if FIFA decides that is when rotation will bring the finals back to Asia.
Chinese interest was sparked by the success of the recent finals in neighbouring South Korea and Japan and also by the Chinese establishment’s own success in winning the 2008 Olympic Games for Beixing.
Zhang Jiling, new Chinese vice-president of the Asian football federation, said: “If the World Cup is coming back to Asia asearly as 2014 then China will make a bid to become hosts.
“We will have the Women’s World Cup in 2003, the Asian Cup in 2004 and the Olympics in 2008 so the World Cup itself would be a logical next step. We will certainly have all necessary facilities.”
A joint Malaysia/Singapore bid is also a possibility as well as another co-hosted bid from various of the Arab Gulf states.
The potential strength of a Chinese bid was recognised publicly earlier this week by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
By Keir Radnedge