South Africa is interested in hosting FIFA's Club World Cup in December after Japan withdrew because of COVID-19, South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan said Monday.
Jordaan told The Associated Press he would meet with FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura in Lagos, Nigeria this week to get more details on what kind of bid South Africa must present to the world body to host the seven-team tournament. 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.
The South African Football Association must get government approval to hold the tournament and meetings with the sports minister were also planned, Jordaan said.
“We'll know our position by the end of the week,” he said.
FIFA announced last week that Japan had withdrawn because of the pandemic and fears that the tournament would cause a further rise in infections in a country that has just staged the Summer Olympics and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.
South Africa has numerous high-quality stadiums that were built or refurbished for the 2010 World Cup but 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 over the last two weeks and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an easing of restrictions countrywide on Sunday. The government is also formulating plans to allow spectators back into sports stadiums, most likely using vaccine passports, Ramaphosa said.
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.
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.
South Africa is still the worst-affected country in Africa with more than 2.8 million virus cases and more than 84,000 deaths reported but there were less than 4,000 new cases on Sunday, down from more than 20,000 a day a few months ago.
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.