FIFA president Gianni Infantino admits he would be open to NORTH KOREA hosting a World Cup as he claims ‘only engagement can bring real change’ despite unsuccessful trip to ask ‘if they were ready to host part of a Women’s World Cup’ with South Korea
Gianni Infantino has admitted North Korea could host a World Cup in the future, as he looks to bring ‘real change’.
The FIFA president – who is set to be re-elected for a third term – revealed that any nation is eligible to host an event, adding that his organisation wants to help unite the world.
Infantino gave an extended speech ahead of the start of the controversial Qatar World Cup on Sunday, in which he hit back at the criticism levelled at FIFA over the staging of the tournament.
The Swiss-born president also admitted to visiting North Korea in the past in an attempt to gauge whether the nation would be open to co-hosting a Women’s tournament alongside their neighbours South Korea.
‘FIFA is a global football organisation,’ Infantino said. ‘We are football people, not politicians, and we want to bring people together.
‘Any country can host an event. If North Korea wants to host something…
Gianni Infantino suggested that any nation in the world could host a World Cup in the future
‘I actually went to North Korea some years ago to ask the North Koreans if they were ready to host part of a Women’s World Cup with South Korea.
‘Well, I was not successful, obviously, but I would go another 100 times if it would help.
‘Only engagement can bring real change. We’re a global organisation and want to remain an organisation that unites the world.’
Ranked 112th in the world, North Korea have not made an appearance at football’s greatest tournament since South Africa 2010, their second outing having debuted at England 1966.
Headed by Kim Jong-un, the secretive state has a tense relationship with South Korea, and has recently increased ballistic testing around the peninsula.
The FIFA president suggested that only though ‘engagement’ could football change the world
North Korea are currently ranked 112th in the world and have made two World Cup outings
South Korea played co-host for the 2002 edition of the competition alongside Japan, whereas their northern neighbours are yet to host a major tournament.
Infantino’s comments come amid heavy backlash for the World Cup, set to kick-off on Sunday, with many pointing to human rights violations and deaths of workers in Qatar in their criticism.
But he remained steadfast in his insistence that supporters should focus on the football, rather than point to issues with the tournament.
Gianni Infantino hit out at critics of the host nation before appearing to compare his own experience to that of the marginalised
‘I’m still convinced that this World Cup will open the eyes of many people from the western world to the Arab world,’ he said.
‘We’re living in the same world, we have to live together. We have to understand each other but also understand that we’re different too, with beliefs, different history, different backgrounds, but the same world. And we have to get along with each other.
‘That’s why if you come here and see something wrong, say it, but also say how we can rectify it, please, so maybe we can help.’
He said if Europe ‘really cared’ about the migrant workers they would do follow Qatar’s in creating ‘legal channels’ for them
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