The FIFA Club World Cup could be played in Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time ever if South Africa manages to launch a successful bid to host the tournament in December.
South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan said he intended to meet with FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura in the Nigerian commercial capital Lagos later this week to discuss the possibility of presenting a bid.
Jordaan also expects to meet with South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Nathi Mthethwa, as SAFA also requires government approval to host the tournament.
“We’ll know our position by the end of the week,” Jordaan said.
The chance to host the Club World Cup opened up after Japan pulled out of hosting the annual tournament last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Africa has several high-quality stadiums that were either built or refurbished for the 2010 World Cup but any hopes of hosting the Club World Cup would depend on its own COVID-19 situation.
Despite being the worst-affected country by COVID-19 in Africa, South Africa recently announced an easing of restrictions after a deadly wave of infections and deaths driven by the Delta variant subsided. The government hinted fans could soon be allowed to attend sports events for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government was also making plans to allow spectators back into stadiums, most likely using vaccine passports. It is believed that FIFA would prefer not to have its tournaments played behind closed doors.
The Club World Cup will feature UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea, the other continental club champions and the league champion from the host country.
FIFA had planned for an extended 24-team Club World Cup to take place for the first time this year in China, however, that plan was dropped because of the pandemic and the seven-team format was extended for another year.
Africa has hosted the Club World Cup before twice in Morocco in 2013 and 2014. No club from the continent has ever won the tournament.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)