Host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa has expressed interest in hosting FIFA’s Club World Cup in December after Japan withdrew because of COVID-19.
This development was contained in a statement by South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan.
In a chat with newsmen, Jordaan said he would meet with FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura in Lagos, Nigeria to get more details on what kind of bid South Africa must present to the world body to host the seven-team tournament. It should be noted that the Club World Cup will feature Champions League winner Chelsea and the other continental club champions. The league champion from the host country also gets a place.
Jordaan said the South African Football Association must get government approval to hold the tournament and meetings with the sports minister were also planned.
He said “We’ll know our position by the end of the week”.
It would be recalled that FIFA had announced that Japan had withdrawn because of the pandemic and fears that the tournament would cause a further rise in infections in a country that has just staged the Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
Analysts are of the view that South Africa though has numerous high-quality stadiums that were built or refurbished for the 2010 World Cup, any ambition to host the Club World Cup would depend on its own coronavirus situation.
South Africa has come through a mid-year surge in cases but there has been a decrease in virus infections in recent weeks and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an easing of restrictions countrywide.
Ramaphosa said the government is also formulating plans to allow spectators back into sports stadiums, most likely using vaccine passports.
That would be a boost for plans to host the Club World Cup as no fans have been allowed at any major sports events in South Africa since the start of the pandemic. FIFA would likely not want its tournament to be played in empty stadiums.
President Jordaan said the South African Football Association had noted the government’s indication that it was ready to consider allowing sports fans back into stadiums.
It is important to note that FIFA had planned for an extended 24-team Club World Cup to take place for the first time this year in China but that was shelved because of the pandemic and the seven-team format was extended for another year.