Australia’s shock World Cup bid

Nine years after the previous attempt to bring football's showpiece event Down Under, Australian football chiefs have had talks about mounting a joint bid to host the 2034 World Cup.

More countries across South-East Asia have signalled that they may want to join a regional bid, as FIFA looks to multi-country tournaments to solve the logistical challenges of an expanded 48-team World Cup from 2026.

Nine years after the previous attempt to bring the global showpiece to Australia ended in ignominious failure and just a single vote, months of talks between the Australian and Indonesian football bodies have convinced both sides that a successful bid could be mounted when FIFA chooses the 2034 hosts.

The Indonesian Football Association has received the backing of its government, while Football Federation Australia officials have held informal talks with the Federal Government and will seek to elevate those discussions in coming months.

FFA is already bidding to host the 2023 Women's World Cup, and is thought to be contemplating a bid for the 2021 U20 World Cup in conjunction with Indonesia.

Though the talks between the two countries over 2034 are described as in their infancy, there is growing political and football consensus that the ASEAN region of South-East Asia should put forward a bid to host the tournament for a constituency with hundreds of millions of football fans.

Earlier this week, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha suggested all 10 members of ASEAN should be part of a bid, though doubt has been cast over the practicalities of such a concept, not least the fact that host nations have always qualified automatically for a tournament.

But the prospect of Australia uniting with one or more ASEAN members will be pitched at the government in Canberra as a unique bridgehead into Asia, with countries working together on a major project with trade and diplomatic spin-offs.

However, any such bid is likely to face stiff competition from China, whose football authorities have signalled a determination to secure what would be only Asia's third World Cup.

The second will be Qatar in 2022, with the "United" bid of America, Canada and Mexico following four years later. The 2030 competition is likely to go to Europe.

"Football Federation Australia confirms it has held discussions with the Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) about the possibility to jointly bid for the 2034 World Cup," FFA said in a statement. "An Indonesia-Australia joint bid was also discussed at last week's ASEAN Football Federation Council Meeting in Laos.

"FFA notes that a joint South-East Asian bid for the 2034 World Cup was endorsed at the recently held 34th ASEAN Summit in Thailand. FFA welcomes the opportunity to further discuss a ASEAN bid for the 2034 World Cup with fellow Member Associations in the region."

News Corp Australia

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