The Fifa World Cup could be coming to Thailand - although football fans may have to wait two decades to see the planet's best players compete on Thai soil.
Thailand could be part of an Asean joint bid to host the World Cup in 2034, with the deputy president of Malaysia’s football association revealing tentative plans on May 16 to bring the finals to Southeast Asia.
Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is also a member of the Asean Football Federation (AFF), told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that he had been asked to chair a committee to oversee the bidding process for the tournament.
Mr Tengku Abdullah added that Asean sports ministers would meet on June 19 to discuss the bid.
“The proposal and draft are ready but we will look at other details before announcing the details of the meeting because 2034 is still a long way to go,” Mr Tengku Abdullah was quoted by Malaysia’s national news agency,Bernama
“I spoke to Fifa president Sepp Blatter regarding the bidding process and received feedback that the bidding will start eight years before the actual tournament.”
The idea of an Asean World Cup was reportedly first floated during an informal meeting of Asean foreign ministers at the East Asia Summit in Bangkok in April 2011.
Malaysia was then given the task of preparing a proposal to be endorsed by the AFF.
“It will most probably be a co-hosting proposal,” The Star quoted Mr Tengku Abdullah.
“From what I’ve gathered, four to five countries will be involved. I think that based on facilities, we are definitely capable of hosting such a large event.
“However, we must have a good team. In 1997, we hosted the youth World Cup but did not have a team that could make an impact in the competition.”
Mr Tengku Abdullah’s statement was met with incredulity in the Malaysian press on Thursday.
Writing in The Star
, columnist K Rajan called the plan “ridiculous” and "a waste of time".
“The FA of Malaysia (FAM) can’t even run the Malaysian league (M-League) properly,” he wrote.
“Malaysian football is in a shambles, we can’t even beat teams like Bangladesh and Singapore, and FAM are thinking about the World Cup."
The columnist also highlighted the problem of alleged match-fixing in Southeast Asia.
“Match-fixing is still prevalent in Malaysia. The Asean region, according to Interpol, is the hub of match-fixing syndicates. Get rid of this malaise first," he wrote.
“The World Cup is no laughing matter. It’s reserved for only the best of the best. Are we the best in Asean, even? So come on FAM, get real, please.”
Asean confirmed in July 2012 that the bloc was considering a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup as part of efforts to forge closer ties among member countries.
At the time, Thailand's Fifa executive member Worawi Makudi said the grouping might be ready to host the tournament by 2030, but argued that the world's football governing body would be unlikely to accept a joint bid of more than two countries.
Surin Pitsuwan, then-secretary general of the 10-nation Asean, said the bloc's foreign ministers had agreed to file a joint bid to host the tournament.
"As a part of community building efforts, Asean FMs (foreign ministers) agreed to propose to enter a competition to JOINTLY host the Football World Cup in 2030," he said in a Twitter message.
It seems Asean's plans may have now been delayed for a further four years.
Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup, with the tournament scheduled for Russia in 2018.
No Asean country has ever qualified for the World Cup although a bid to host the competition in the region would be boosted by Fifa’s decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar, a country with little football pedigree that has never qualified for the finals.
The World Cup has only been co-hosted once in its 83-year history, when South Korea and Japan shared responsibility in 2002.
COMMENT - nope! Put it this way. Remember Indonesia's half hearted bid for 2018 or 2022? You know what came from that...Logistically? No. Financially? Infrastructure? No. Dead in the water? Yep