Now FAS targets 2021 Youth World Cup
With plans to stage 2019 event almost derailed, Republic focus on next edition
Three years ago, at its annual general meeting, the Football Association of Singapore announced the bold move to bring a Fifa Youth World Cup to Singapore for the first time, as early as 2019.
However, The New Paper has learnt that the Republic is almost certain to miss out on hosting the Under-17 World Cup in three years' time due to a few reasons, and will now focus on winning the hosting rights for the 2021 edition instead.
First, the 2017 edition will be held in India, and with Fifa seemingly not keen to award consecutive tournaments to the same continent - it has not done so since the first Fifa U-17 World Championship was held in Italy in 1991 - Singapore's chances look greatly diminished.
Furthermore, since the competition expanded to feature 24 countries in South Korea 2007, there has been a minimum of six venues identified to host the six groups of four.
Since 2007, the smallest stadium to have hosted the U-17 World Cup was the Emirates Club Stadium, which can hold about 5,000 people, at United Arab Emirates 2013.
However, at present, Singapore has at most four stadia that can hold at least 5,000 people.
While the National Stadium, Jalan Besar Stadium and Bishan Stadium have hosted international and AFC Cup matches in recent years, there have been pitch and lighting concerns.
Jurong Stadium, a 6,000-seater, is also a possibility, but is in need of refurbishment.
Although the FAS did not confirm that the 2019 bid is dead, a spokesman said that "the Fifa U-17 World Cup Standing Committee is working towards a bid for Singapore to host the Fifa U-17 World Cup".
He added: "This bid requires a holistic and multi-agency partnership prior to submission to Fifa, including investment in infrastructure, among other things, from the authorities.
"There have been discussions with stakeholders and we will continue the analysis, assessments and discussions on this bid initiative before making any announcements jointly with our partners/stakeholders."
At the 2013 AGM, FAS president Zainudin Nordin said: "Our experience in hosting the inaugural editions of the Asian Youth Games in 2009 and Youth Olympic Games in 2010 has given us confidence that we could and should aspire to host key football-related events.
"We should aim high and a Fifa Youth World Cup is right up there. We believe Singapore has the capabilities to host such events, which will help to further raise the appeal and popularity of sports including football."
It is understood that Singapore, which will field a team as host, is not looking at a joint bid.
The last time a World Youth Cup was held in South-east Asia was in 1997 when Malaysia hosted the Under-20 tournament.
We should aim high and a Fifa Youth World Cup is right up there.
— FAS president Zainudin Nordin in 2013