Southeast Asia may make a coordinated bid to host the soccer World Cup, with countries sharing hosting rights, a senior Thai official said on Friday.
“Together we have 580 million people, together we would rank as the fifth-largest country in the world,” Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij (picture) said, “Why not?”
The deadline for submitting bids for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals passed last February and it was unclear whether the Association of South East Nations was looking beyond those tournaments.
Asean groups Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Brunei, the Philippines, and Indonesia, which has submitted a bid to host the 2022 finals.
Eight of the 10 countries could each host a group of four teams in the competition, Korn said, adding that Japan and South Korea had set a co-hosting precedent in the 2002 World Cup.
Southeast Asia has had experience staging a big soccer tournament, when Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia jointly held the 2007 Asian Cup, although the use of four host countries was widely criticized.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Asean summit in the Thai resort town of Hua Hin, the Oxford-educated Korn said Thailand’s premier liked the idea and it was being floated informally with other leaders.
“It is a great idea. Imagine the eight streams in the World Cup, you can easily have a country in charge of each stream,” he said. The costs, including the bill from building big new stadiums, would be spread around the region, he said.
Korn said Southeast Asia could hold an intra-Asean competition with the winner representing Southeast Asia, or could field a team representing the whole region.
“We are talking in 10 years’ time. But it is good to have preparations made many years in advance,” he said.
“It would be wonderful for football, great for the Asean people and very good for Asean as an organization, better than monetary union.” - JG/Agencies.