ASEAN candidates for the 2034 World Cup

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According to Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, ASEAN has the economic and football skills to host the highest international competition

ASEAN could host the World Cup in 2034. FIFA President Gianni Infantino talked about this possibility after visiting the Jalan Besar stadium in Singapore, on the occasion of the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Football Association of the island and the new turf of the stadium, to which FIFA contributed with 2.53 million dollars. "Hosting the World Cup is a great ambition - said Infantino - This part of the world certainly has the economic and football capacity to do so". To convince him would have been "the great passion for football" that nourishes the inhabitants of this region, as well as, of course, the growing economy. Indonesia, then, will host the Under 20 World Cup in 2023, and this "will be a test" to prove the capabilities of ASEAN. Infantino therefore welcomed Singapore's decision to run as host of the 2034 World Cup, adding that the country can count on "a very ambitious federation and a government that supports the project".

"It is FIFA's responsibility to try to reduce the gap between nations - recalled the president of the association - by increasing the opportunities for countries of lesser footballing relevance, such as those of ASEAN, to join the more established ones". It is no coincidence, in fact, that since its appointment in 2016, FIFA has increased the number of teams participating in the World Cup, from 32 to 48 starting from the 2026 edition. Infantino ha also suggested to increase the attendance of the World Cup, abandoning the four-year format, to hold them every two years. A proposal that has aroused considerable criticism, especially from the federations of the European Union and United States. But even this would be a way to make the competition more inclusive, allowing potential new hosts, such as ASEAN, to enter the circuit more easily. Infantino also vowed to ensure that the bidding process to host the World Cup, which has been swamped with corruption allegations in previous editions, will be made "as transparent and professional as possible."

From now until 2034, ASEAN will have a goal, added Infantino: “To make football grow”. In fact, a discussion is underway between FIFA and the ASEAN Football Association on the possibility of including the Suzuki Cup, which brings together the national teams of the area, among the official FIFA tournaments. The tournament is currently only accredited by FIFA, but is not supervised by the latter nor played in an international window. This implies that football clubs are not obliged to release their players to participate in it. As a result, many of the best ASEAN players based in Europe fail to take part in the tournament. Certainly the candidacy to host the 2034 World Cup passes through the development of a joint offer by the members of ASEAN. A need that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha pointed out during the 34th summit of the block held in Bangkok, calling on “all the peoples of ASEAN to collectively support the national football federations of the member states, in order to realize this dream together ".

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