Indonesia wants to co-host 2034 World Cup with Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Indonesia wants to co-host 2034 World Cup with Australia, Malaysia, Singapore

JAKARTA – Indonesia is in discussions with Australia about a possible joint-bid to host the 2034 World Cup along with Malaysia and Singapore, the president of the country’s football federation (PSSI) said on Wednesday.

World football’s governing body Fifa invited member associations from Asia and Oceania to bid for the rights to the 2034 edition last week.

“We are discussing (a bid) with Australia,” PSSI president Erick Thohir, who is a government minister and former Inter Milan owner, was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

“When I visited Malaysia and Singapore, both countries expressed interest to join Indonesia and Australia.”

He said on Tuesday he raised the issue with his Australian counterpart at the Fifa Congress in Rwanda in March and talks have continued since.

Thohir also said he had raised the prospect with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who he said responded positively.

When asked for comment on a possible joint-bid, Football Australia referred back to a statement last week that said it was “exploring the possibility of bidding for the 2029 Fifa Club World Cup and/or the Fifa World Cup 2034”. It did not mention a joint-bid with Indonesia last week.

However, Australian football officials had said in June they were investigating the possibility of a joint-bid with Indonesia.

The PSSI has not responded to a request for comment, while The Straits Times has reached out to Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth for comment.

This is not the first time that there is talk of the 2034 World Cup being hosted in South-east Asia. In 2019, 10 Asean nations, including Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, had agreed to establish a technical working group, led by Thailand, to look into the feasibility of a joint-bid to host the 2034 showpiece.

Indonesian football has been mired in controversy over the past year.

A stadium stampede in Java a year ago killed 135 people and Indonesia lost the hosting rights to the Under-20 World Cup after protests in the Muslim-majority nation over Israel’s participation.

After announcing last week that Spain, Morocco and Portugal would host the 2030 World Cup, with Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina staging the opening games, Fifa invited Asia and Oceania to bid for 2034.

Saudi Arabia quickly announced its intention to bid for the hosting rights and Fifa has set a deadline of Oct 31 for other interested parties to make their intentions known.

With Qatar having hosted the 2022 edition, Akmal Marhali of Indonesian watchdog Save Our Soccer told The Herald it might be too soon for the World Cup to return to the Middle East.

“We are quite strong,” he said. “I think Fifa will see that the Middle East area has been the host with Qatar last year. Japan and Korea have been host too. I am sure Fifa will try other countries.

“The potential to win if we join with Australia, Malaysia and Singapore is bigger too.”

However, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) threw its support behind the Saudi bid for the 2034 World Cup shortly after it was announced last week.

“The entire Asian football family will stand united in support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s momentous initiative,” said AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation said that once they declared their intention on Wednesday to bid for the tournament, “over 70 Fifa member associations from across different continents have publicly pledged their support for the Kingdom”.

The Guardian on Monday reported that Fifa’s relaxing of rules on the number of existing stadiums needed by bidders for 2034 also is a boon for the Saudi bid.

Meanwhile, “sources close to the corridors of power” told The Daily Mail that “A Saudi World Cup in 2034 isn’t just likely, it’s basically a done deal. Money has talked again, and the event will be worth billions in new cash for Fifa.”

Several other media outlets have also reported that the Saudi bid is the clear frontrunner for the 2034 World Cup.

The 2026 World Cup, which will feature 48 teams, will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico. - REUTERS, AFP

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