An Indonesian foreign ministry official confirmed on Tuesday that Asean member nations could launch a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup in an effort to boost unity among countries in the region.
“The idea was discussed in an informal meeting during the Asean foreign ministers’ retreat in Lombok over the weekend,” Michael Tene, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Jakarta Globe.
He said the plan was “still evolving” amid ongoing talks among member nations.
“However, discussions are still at an early stage, though we’ve planned another meeting to talk about this before the Asean Summit,” he said, referring to the May 7-8 talks in Jakarta.
He said foreign ministers had yet to discuss details such as which of the 10 Asean members would host the competition.
But he said Malaysia — which had first proposed the idea at the annual foreign ministers’ meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, last year — had been tasked to come up with a detailed proposal that would be discussed at the summit in May.
“We haven’t even spoken with the PSSI [Indonesian Football Association] or any government official about the idea yet,” Michael said.
“But if we agree within the Asean to push this through, then we’ll talk with all parties involved such as the football association.”
Indonesia was also briefly involved in the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup final before withdrawing its tender in March last year.
Nugraha Besoes, PSSI secretary general, said he had yet to hear from the foreign ministry about the 2030 World Cup, and was doubtful of the bid’s chances of success.
“Until now, there has only ever been one jointly hosted World Cup — South Korea and Japan back in 2002,” Nugraha said.
“Spain and Portugal, and the Netherlands and Belgium also made bids to host in 2018 and 2022, but they failed.”
“I think it would make no sense for the Asean to submit a joint bid involving 10 countries, especially as there are only 32 teams [competing in the final],” he said.
“It would make more sense if the Asean appointed just two countries to bid.”
Although it will be more than a decade before FIFA makes any decision on the highly anticipated football competition, Asean nations were slow off the mark compared with Argentina and Uruguay, which announced last year that they were considering a joint bid to host the 2030 Cup.
The 2014 final is set to be staged in Brazil, followed by Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.