Saudi path to 2034 could face obstacle of Indonesia-Aussie-Malaysia-Singapore joint bid

October 11 – Saudi Arabia, looking to be a shoo-in to stage the 2034 World Cup now looks to have a potential rival in the bidding process.

Reports suggest Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore could mount a challenge with the competition open solely to nations in the Asian and Oceania confederations,

The president of Indonesia’s FA has confirmed that talks are taking place between the nations. “We are discussing (a bid) with Australia,” PSSI President Erick Thohir was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. “When I visited Malaysia and Singapore both countries expressed interest to join Indonesia and Australia.”

When asked for comment on a possible joint bid, Football Australia referred to a statement last week that said it was “exploring the possibility of bidding for the 2029 FIFA Club World Cup and/or the FIFA World Cup 2034”.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson said at the end of the Women’s World Cup that his federation had ambition and appetite to host more events. Last month he wrote to government and organisers of the Brisbane Olympics in 2032 urging them to think bigger in terms of stadia as they revamped venues ahead of the Olympics.

Australia only has one venue that would currently meet FIFA’s hosting criteria. However, Johnson emphasised that it was part of an exploratory process.

The issue for rival bids to the Saudis is that the October 31 deadline to register a formal expression of interest with FIFA is very short and has very much been sprung on federations who might consider a bid at the last minute. The Saudis have already registered their formal expression of interest.

A further issue for any other bidders from Asia is that the Asian Football Confederation has already given its backing to a Saudi bid, with AFC president Shaikh Salman calling for unity across his confederation for that bid.

Indonesia’s recent history does not bode well for a bid either.

In March, the predominantly Muslim country was stripped of the right to host the U20 World Cup after the PSSI said it had cancelled the draw because the governor of Bali refused to host Israel’s team. It would not be an issue confined to Indonesia, as Malaysia, also a predominantly Muslim country would also likely have reservations about hosting the Israelis.

Indonesia also has hosting credibility issues after the country saw one of the world’s worst stadium disasters last year when 135 people died, mostly from asphyxiation, in a stampede after a match in the city of Malang.

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