South Korea urges talks on joint World Cup to defuse tensions in the region

South Korea’s football association says it wants talks with China and Japan about a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup along with North Korea

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 9:16pm

South Korea’s football association on Tuesday said it wanted talks with China and Japan about a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup along with North Korea, an initiative aimed at easing tensions in the region.

The South’s new president Moon Jae-In first proposed the ambitious idea to Fifa chief Gianni Infantino in a meeting on Monday, although Korean officials acknowledge China is likely to be lukewarm.

“We want to start discussions with China and Japan on this idea,” a spokesman for the Korea Football Association (KFA) Cho Jun-Heon said.

South Korea and Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup but a four-way split is unheard of, let alone between two countries – the Koreas – who are technically still at war.

KFA president Chung Mong-Gyu told reporters that the North – which does not have formal diplomatic ties with Japan or South Korea – would likely be keen to host if the other countries all agreed to participate.

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But China could be cool to the proposal as it apparently wants to host the world’s largest sporting event alone, Chung added.

Chinese officials have said they want to host the World Cup at the earliest opportunity, which appears to be 2030.

Speaking at the Fifa meeting on Monday, Moon said sport could play a role in easing tensions in the region.

“If East Asian countries, including the two Koreas, host the World Cup, I think this will help build up peace on the Korean peninsula as well as in the region,” Moon told Infantino, according to the presidential Blue House.

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Infantino said he respected Moon’s “vision”, and would discuss the proposal with China’s President Xi Jinping when he meets in Beijing on Wednesday, the Blue House statement said.

North Korea has often boycotted sporting events overseas, including the 1988 Seoul Olympics after Seoul rejected Pyongyang’s demand to host the Games jointly.