The South African Football Association has expressed an interest in hosting this year’s soccer Fifa Club World Cup after Japan pulled out.

Japan announced that it had given up its hosting rights last week due to the high number of coronavirus infections in the country, leaving Fifa hunting for an alternative location to stage the tournament, which is scheduled to take place from 9 to 19 December. 

Safa, meanwhile, has said it is confident that the number of infections in South Africa will have declined sufficiently by the time the tournament is due to be played.

Having had the highest rate of Covid-19 deaths in Africa and over 20,000 new daily cases at the start of July, the country recorded just shy of 4,000 new cases on Sunday (12 September).

With Covid-19 restrictions having also been eased in South Africa on Sunday, the government hopes it will be able to permit fans to attend sports events, which has not happened there since the start of the pandemic.

The BBC has quoted Dominic Chimhavi, communications director of Safa, as saying: “If you go through our numbers, they are really declining. Most of the variants are on a massive decline and we are on a massive vaccination drive.”

Chimhavi added that Safa “has reached an advanced stage” in its discussions to stage the event, in that Danny Jordaan, president of Safa, is expected to meet with various officials in Nigeria today (Wednesday) to present South Africa’s proposal.

Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, Fatma Samoura, secretary general of Fifa and Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football, will be present at the meeting.

It is understood that Safa will require government approval in order to proceed with a potential bid.

South Africa previously hosted the World Cup in 2010 and the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013.