Another England bid to stage the World Cup is in danger of being destroyed by Fifa following the emergence of plans to relax a ban on China hosting the 2030 tournament.
The prospect of football coming home for the 100th anniversary of the game’s showpiece event had been given a major boost in October when the governing body ruled that the 2026 edition would not take place in Europe – effectively handing it to North America.
That marked the resurrection of the continental rotation policy Fifa abandoned in 2007 and which had prevented the World Cup being staged in the same region more than once every 12 years.
Members of Fifa’s ruling council were afterwards expecting the new rotation policy to continue for the 2030 tournament, meaning it could not be awarded to an Asian nation eight years after being held in Qatar.
However, a legal text published on Wednesday ahead of next week’s Fifa congress in Bahrain included a proposal for this ban to be rendered void “if circumstances so require”.
If approved, that would allow China to lodge a back-door bid for the 2030 World Cup, an event it had previously declared a desire to host.
Chinese property and cinema giant Dalian Wanda Group became a Fifa partner in March last year in a deal until the end of 2030, saying: “As a partner of Fifa, Wanda will be better placed to play a role in the bidding process to host major football events, such as the World Cup.”
The only current exception to the rotation policy introduced in October is when none of the eligible bidders meet the technical requirements for putting on the tournament.
Moving the goalposts could make the Football Association think twice about bidding for the 2030 tournament after its attempts to land the 2006 and 2018 editions ended in humiliation amid accusations of vote-buying by its rivals.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn previously told Telegraph Sport the new rotation policy would potentially “help” any England bid because it would make the 2030 World Cup Europe’s “turn” to host the event.
England is also now one of few countries capable of staging it in its entirety after it was expanded to 48 teams from 2026.
The country would face opposition anyway from a joint proposal by Argentina and Uruguay, the respective runner-up and winner of the inaugural World Cup, which was hosted by the latter.