Never mind China. Never mind Uruguay (and other South Americans partners). It’s Europe which should host the World Cup finals in 2030 according to Alesander Ceferin.
The president of European federation UEFA threw down his own governing body’s gauntlet after an executive committee in Cardiff ahead of the Champions League Final between holders Real Madrid and Juventus in the National Stadium on Saturday.
World federation FIFA has left open the prospect of a bidding battle royal for the 2030 finals, the centenary tournament, by not having confirmed that the highly political ‘rotation’ system will be applied.
Under rotation no continent can stage the next two tournaments after one of its members has played host. Hence, with rotation formally applied, Europe and Asia are barred from chasing 2026 (because of the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 events). This has left a co-hosting bid from the United States with Mexico and Canada as runaway favourite.
However unregulated 2030 is more complex. For a decade or more Uruguay, host of the original finals in 1930, has set its sights on a centenary celebration in co-operation with southern neighbour Argentina and, since the expansion to 48 teams, of possibly Chile too.
However the assault on FIFA by Chinese big business – Vivo this week has become the World Cup’s third new Chinese sponsor – has established China in the early driving seat. This always assumes that rotation will not be invoked because of the powerful financial attraction of China to FIFA.
Now UEFA, for the first time, has issued a statement of intent.
Ceferin fielded a number of questions about UEFA’s “correct” relations with FIFA following last month’s world congress in Bahrain. He was then tackled on the World Cup issue and the apparent unfairness of rotation applying to 2026 but not 2030.
The issue is all the more pertient for Ceferin because he is president of FIFA’s competitions organising committee.
Asked about China jumping the queue, he said: “You cannot bid for the two next World Cups so we would resist. It’s Europe’s turn in 2030. Clearly so. We will fight for a European host.”
On other issues Ceferin indicated that UEFA was close to an agreement with the European Professional Football Leagues which would guarantee a free run in relevant midweeks for its club competitions. In return the EPFL would gain a place in the executive committee after the example already set by UEFA with the European Club Association.
He said: “We have had three or four meetings with them and are very close to signing an MoU and that includes the executive committee. We want all the stakeholders in our organisation because then it will be much easier to lead European football and to improve it.”
Ceferin acknowledged an ever wider wealth gap within European club and insisted UEFA was working on the issue as priority though a redistribution of club competitions revenue remains a complex subject.
** Francesco Totti, who ended his one-club career with Roma last weekend, has been named as latest recipient of the UEFA President’s Award for an outstanding contribution to the European game. UEFA is also studying the creation of a Hall of Fame.