Singapore is planning to lead an ASEAN bid and host the 2030 World Cup. Given the extraordinary support soccer enjoys among 600 million people in Southeast Asia and the advanced plans to forge a single economic and cultural bloc in the region, such a plan should enjoy widespread support.
Zainudin Nordin, President of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), said Singapore has set the target for hosting the World Cup as part of a combined bid for the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Given the unexpected success enjoyed by Qatar and its winning bid for the 2022 tournament – where a money-first attitude prevailed – an ASEAN attempt would not be entirely out of place.
With Singapore at the helm, ASEAN would be in a financial position to host the tournament. ASEAN certainly boasts a large and strong following of the football code and many of the facilities and logistics required to stage such a complex event already exist or could easily be built with 10 countries behind the bid.
Qatar also broke the unwritten rule that only traditionally strong soccer nations should hold the World Cup. According to Goal.com, Zainudin said he was happy with 2030 as the target for a regional bid and a solid proposal would be forthcoming.
This type of bid would also allow world minnows like Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar to play hosts at a tournament – for perhaps just one game each. That’s something they normally could only dream of doing.
Ahead of Qatar’s 2022 cup, Brazil will hold the 2014 World Cup and Russia will take its turn four years later. An ASEAN bid would provide FIFA with an opportunity to hold the World Cup for the first time in Southeast Asia and only the second time in Asia. Japan and South Korea held a joint World Cup in 2002.
The 2026 World Cup is not slated to be held in Asia.
Qatar’s bid has been shrouded in controversy with FIFA delaying a bid to shift the World Cup to winter after admitting that it had not taken into proper consideration the desert heat and the impact this could have on the players, officials and fans.
The ASEAN bid would also provide a focal point for the upcoming ASEAN Summit to be held this week in Brunei where trade agreements and more weighty issues of state and foreign policy issues – like territorial disputes in the South China Sea – are standard fare.
This year, major issues include the formation of a common market by the end of 2015 – a formidable task given the great religious, political and cultural differences among the 10 countries.
Luke Hunt can be followed on Twitter at @lukeanthonyhunt.