Infantino says joint Korean Women's World Cup bid possible
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 04, 2019 07:59 AM
FIFA President Gianni Infantino holds the official ball of the upcoming Women's Soccer World Championship as he poses for photographers during a press conference at the end of an executive committee meeting in Rome, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
By Rob Harris, Associated Press
ABERDEEN, Scotland (AP) — A joint World Cup bid by North and South Korea is being talked up by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
"I have been hearing for the Women's World Cup in 2023, the two Koreas," Infantino said. "I have been hearing that. It would be great."
A combined Olympic bid is already in the works. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced plans in September to jointly bid for the 2032 Summer Games.
Soccer officials from North and South Korea did not respond Sunday to emailed questions from The Associated Press about Infantino's comments, which came after a meeting of the International Football Association Board lawmaking body in Scotland.
The Korean Peninsula remains technically at war because the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. Sport has been used to foster diplomacy and North Korea's participation in last year's Winter Olympics in South Korea, including a combined women's hockey team, spurred reconciliation by the neighbors.
"They have been in a very, very difficult situation until recently," Infantino said.
The 2023 Women's World Cup hosting contest is already a crowded field. Australia, Colombia, Japan and South Africa have already expressed interest in bidding.
FIFA last month asked countries to make an expression of interest in bidding by March 15, complete the bidding registration by April 16 and submit bid books by Oct. 4. The FIFA Council vote is set to be held in March 2020.
Interest is also growing in hosting the 2030 men's World Cup.
Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay are combining for a South American bid and a European challenge is expected.
England is leading plans for a British Isles bid, including Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. The leaders of four Balkan countries — Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia — are also keen on a joint entry. The Spanish government has expressed interest in combining with Portugal and Morocco too.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said in December he would not back a nation from another continent being involved in a European bid, but Infantino is keener on different confederations combining.
"Generally the more bidders we have the better it is," Infantino said. "The more we speak about all these topics, joint bids, South Americans, Home Nations, cross-confederations, the happier I am."