Sun, Jun 23, 2019 - Page 11 News List

ASEAN World Cup possible in 2034: Thai minister

AFP, BANGKOK

Southeast Asian nations could launch a joint bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup, Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai said yesterday, in a bold play to bring the biggest sporting show on earth to the region for the first time.

The only Asian hosts of the World Cup so far have been Japan and South Korea in 2002. China is widely seen as the next Asian frontrunner to hold the tournament, with its massive sporting market, wealth and infrastructure to match.

However, the 10-member ASEAN bloc, meeting in Bangkok this weekend, is keen to steal a march on the regional superpower.

“Government sectors think this can happen ... 15 years from now,” Pramudwinai told reporters after talks with his counterparts.

“The idea will be proposed to the leaders” of ASEAN before the end of the summit today, a Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said.

Since the inaugural World Cup in 1930, 17 nations have hosted the event, many of them in Europe and South America, where millions of fans have descended to support their home country’s teams.

FIFA usually selects the host years in advance, and the 2026 event is to go to the North American continent, with the US, Canada and Mexico as joint hosts.

However, the years-long vetting process has been fraught with controversies, as allegations of bribery and kickbacks have plagued FIFA over awarding the host position to Russia last year and Qatar in 2022.

Southeast Asia is home to tens of millions of passionate fans, but lacks high-level national teams and the facilities to put on the massive event.

It is unclear which of the 10 members would host games or how FIFA would allocate the automatic qualification normally given to tournament hosts.

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