World Cup ’22 chances even better after attack?

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World Cup ’22 chances even better after attack?

Korea is stressing the importance of peace and the positive impact that hosting the 2022 World Cup could potentially bring to the Korean Peninsula, said FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon yesterday in South Korea’s final pitch to host the international sporting event.

The five countries bidding to host the 2022 World Cup - Korea, Australia, Japan, Qatar and the United States - each gave a 30-minute presentation to the FIFA executive committee in Zurich yesterday.

The 22-member committee will vote and announce the winning bid for both 2022 and 2018 late tonight or early tomorrow, Korean time. The group originally had 24 members, but Reynald Temarii of Tahiti and Amos Adamu of Nigeria were suspended after allegations that they offered to sell their votes.

Despite concerns that North Korea’s attacks on Yeonpyeong Island last week could derail South Korea’s bid, Chung held firm in his belief that the World Cup could help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and added that the incident is a strong reminder that peace in Korea is important.

“From the beginning, we have stressed that the purpose of our bid was never about commercialism, but about maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia,” Chung said. “We are stressing the importance of peace in the region even more now than before the shelling on Yeonpyeong.”

South Korea’s bid committee, headed by Han Sung-joo, has a plan to include North Korean officials in the planning stages of the World Cup and to hold several matches north of the border. Korea recently earned positive feedback from FIFA president Sepp Blatter when he said that hosting a World Cup in Korea could help bring peace to the peninsula.

The 2018 World Cup bids - England, Russia and joint bids from the Netherlands and Belgium, and Spain and Portugal - give their final presentations today.

Korea is expected to have a good shot at landing the 2022 World Cup bid, having co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with Japan and holding other major international sporting events in the past. Other positive factors include a solid transportation network and multiple venues that have already been built for the 2002 tournament.

Although critics have said that Korea has not waited long enough to bid for another World Cup, Chung - who took part in Korea’s presentation along with Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and swimmer Park Tae-hwan yesterday - thinks otherwise.

“The 2022 World Cup is 12 years away,” Chung said. “By that time, it will be 20 years since we co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with Japan.”


By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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