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21.09.2021 Football News

Club World Cup: South Africa 'encouraged' by talks with Fifa president

By BBC Africa
Club World Cup: South Africa 'encouraged' by talks with Fifa president
LISTEN SEP 21, 2021

The South African Football Association (Safa) says it has held 'encouraging' talks with Fifa over a bid to host December's Club World Cup.

South Africa has expressed a keen interest in staging the tournament after Japan withdrew as hosts earlier this month citing concerns over coronavirus.

Safa president Danny Jordaan travelled to Nigeria last week to discuss South Africa's possible hosting plans with Fifa's president, Gianni Infantino, and its secretary-general, Fatma Samoura.

"The talks were very, very encouraging," Safa's head of communications, Dominic Chimhavi, told BBC Sport Africa.

"The president had a chat with the Fifa hierarchy, which includes the president and the secretary-general, and with Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe.

"We have written an official letter to Fifa to ask them about the terms of reference with regards to what is needed for South Africa to host the [Club] World Cup. So everything is all systems go as far as we are concerned."

Fifa has yet to announce if it has received other bids to host the event, which features six continental club champions and the host nation's league champions, or if it will open a tender process for countries keen to do so.

Chimhavi added that many cities, including Johannesburg and Cape Town, which hosted World Cup matches in 2010 are interested in staging games.

He is also confident that the plans will get the backing of the South African government, which is vital to Safa's chances.

"The Fifa secretary general spent almost a week in South Africa a couple of weeks ago," he explained. "One of the assurances she got from the Minister of Sport was that South Africa is ready to host any major tournament at any given time."

Nonetheless, South Africa's continued presence on the British government's red list - which means anyone returning to the United Kingdom from the country must quarantine for 10 days in an approved hotel - is a complicating factor.

Such regulations would make it difficult for European champions Chelsea to play in a South Africa-based Club World Cup unless the country's Covid-19 situation improves.

"Our numbers are declining and our vaccination drive is one of the most impressive on the continent," Chimhavi rallied.

"In the coming months, you might discover that South Africa is one of the safest places to visit because we have an aggressive campaign to make sure that each and everyone is vaccinated. We take this Covid-19 issue seriously."

"Since we raised our hands in regards to this issue, we have been working closely and constantly with the Minister of Sport. We have been working constantly with the Minister of Health with regards to making sure that everything - concerning Covid regulations - is above board."

BBC Sport Africa has asked Fifa when a decision will be made about the replacement Club World Cup host but has yet to receive clarification.

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