FAS open to exploring possibility of joint-World Cup bid with Indonesia
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) considers Indonesia's proposal to lead an Asean consortium to bid for the hosting rights of the 2034 World Cup an "interesting proposition".
While the local football governing body acknowledges that "there are a lot of factors to consider", it is open to "explore the possibility of such a bid" with its Indonesian counterpart.
According to an AFP report on Wednesday, Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) vice-president Joko Driyono said that his country had mooted the idea at an Asean Football Federation council meeting in Vietnam earlier this month.
He said: "It will be officially endorsed in the (AFF) council meeting in Bali in September.
"It is time that South-east Asia hosts the World Cup, and the progressive growth of Asia, especially South-east Asia, brings an optimism for us."
In response to The New Paper's queries, an FAS spokesman said yesterday: "We have not had any preliminary discussions with PSSI, the Indonesian FA, regarding a joint World Cup bid.
"It is an interesting proposition and there are a lot of factors to consider.
"We look forward to engaging with PSSI to explore the possibility of such a bid."
It is understood that the agenda for the September meeting includes the number of Asean countries who will bid to be joint-hosts, financial arrangements and what should be done in relation to automatic places in the tournament for hosting countries.
Due to geographical and infrastructural considerations, only two or three of the 12 AFF member countries would be suitable to host matches if they are successful in the 2034 World Cup bid, added Driyono.
Singapore would appear to be a realistic candidate, although the availability of just one good-size arena in the National Stadium could count against it.
However, the region will have almost a decade to put together a plan, as the deadline to register the bid is 2026.
As Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup and Fifa has a policy of excluding confederations that hosted the two preceding tournaments from applying, the earliest Asean can hope for the World Cup to arrive on its shores is 2034.
In a previous interview, Fifa president Gianni Infantino had told TNP last December that he is "very much in favour of the possibility of joint hosting".
The World Cup in 2026 will be expanded from 32 to 48 teams, which could also increase the possibility of an Asean team qualifying on merit.
"To be able to increase the number of slots will increase the chances of seeing a team from this region participate in the World Cup," said Infantino.
"It also depends on what kind of format the Asian Football Confederation will come up with... When I see the passion for football in these countries, I hope one from Asean will qualify."
In 2013, the FAS announced its intention to bid for the 2019 hosting rights of the Under-17 or U-20 World Cup, but later pushed back the target to 2021.
With no new updates, the FAS' latest response to the matter was last year, when it told TNP: "The Fifa U-17 World Cup Standing Committee is working towards a bid for Singapore to host the Fifa U-17 World Cup.
"This bid requires a holistic and multi-agency partnership prior to submission to Fifa, including investment in infrastructure, among other things, from the authorities."