World Cup in South-east Asia a possibility
Indonesia plans to lead joint Asean bid to host 2034 tournament
The wheels for a first-ever World Cup in South-east Asia, and possibly Singapore, have been set in motion as Indonesia proposes to lead an Asean consortium to bid for the hosting rights of the 2034 edition.
According to an AFP report, Indonesia football association vice-president Joko Driyono said 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."
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.
The Football Association of Singapore was unable to respond to The New Paper's queries by press time.
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".
He said: "If a country doesn't need to have 12 stadiums which seats more than 50,000 spectators, and they have only four, why shouldn't we allow three countries to join forces, which could fit more in the football development strategy of any country?
"More countries can then participate in the dream of hosting a part of the World Cup.
"Practical and logistical topics need to be sorted out before making the bid, such as where the opening match and final will be held.
"Taxation, currency and legal issues will also have to be sorted out, so that we can have a uniformed and standardised commission for the organisation of the World Cup. All these have to be clear before the awarding of the hosting rights."
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."