Could ASEAN bid for the World Cup? (cross posted to Siam Voices)

Note: This post originally appeared on Siam Voices, a collaborative Thailand blog at Asian Correspondent. I have added an update.

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Yesterday’s Bangkok Post:

Asean kicks around plan to host World Cup

Asean foreign ministers have agreed to propose to the grouping’s leadership that the region host the World Cup in 2030 as a group, diplomatic sources say.

The foreign ministers, who are meeting in Lombok, Indonesia, would submit a formal and detailed plan for approval by the Asean leaders when they meet in Jakarta on May 7 and 8.

The idea of the region jointly hosting the World Cup in 2030 was first proposed by Malaysia at the annual foreign ministers’ meeting in Hanoi in July last year.

Yesterdays’s Jakarta Post:

2030 World Cup in ASEAN? Why not?

In an attempt to boost integration among its people, ASEAN will propose to FIFA that the 10 member countries jointly host the 2030 soccer World Cup.

Foreign ministers of the ASEAN countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar — gathered here Sunday for a retreat meeting agreed to table their candidacy this year to jointly host the world’s biggest sporting event.

As we know, the 2014 World Cup will be in Brazil. Then it’s Russia for 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

A few thoughts:

1. Southeast Asia is geographically large, and — as touched upon in the Jakarta Post item — travel between countries as far-flung as Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines presents logistical challenges.

2. If a bid were to materialize, would the FIFA Executive Committee be put off by political instability here in Thailand — a country at the heart of the region, and perhaps ASEAN’s biggest tourist draw? Or perhaps tensions will have eased by then? What about Myanmar, as a member of ASEAN? Would Myanmar host matches?

3. Infrastructure in Southeast Asia is lacking. The Bangkok Post story says: “By the time the international football association, Fifa, decides on the 2030 World Cup host, all Asean capitals are expected to have built international standard sports and football stadiums, said one of the sources.”

I would be interested to hear more about these plans.

4. Speaking of FIFA’s executive committee, what about the fuss over Thailand’s Worawi Makudi and England’s failed World Cup bid? Would England support an ASEAN bid, given Thailand’s failure to deliver for the Three Lions?

5. This is not the first time the idea has been floated, as the Bangkok Post piece notes. The Post ran this shot Oct., 2009 item: “Asean eyeing to host World Cup.”

6. Interestingly, there is already an ASEAN 2030 Facebook group that has been “liked” by 478 people. It contains this interesting passage, which seems to encapsulate the “why not?” spirit that would presumably need to be part of any potential bid:

The astounding decision last week by FIFA, the world’s football federation, to award Russia and Qatar to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 respectively gives hope that ASEAN should seriously aspire, as a Community, to host this quadrennial sporting event, with the largest worldwide audience, in 2030.

Image: ASEAN 2030 Facebook page.

UPDATE: January 18 — The Bangkok Post has a new story today: “Worawi: Joint Asean World Cup unlikely.” There’s also this piece, “A kicking idea: using sport to forge an Asean identity.”

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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