Southeast Asian countries will join forces to host the Football World Cup in 2034, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in 2002, and Qatar will bring it back to the continent in 2022.
"The heads of state have the support of the region to host the FIFA World Cup 2034, if possible," said Prayuth on Sunday in a closing press conference of this year's first summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean ).
"I would like to invite the people of Asean to support the football associations in their countries to make this dream come true," he said.
Malaysia, a key member of the bloc, welcomed the move.
"We felt that we alone [single nation bids] would never have the chance to host the World Cup, perhaps [with] all Asean together we will be able to host the World Cup," Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was on the Star Online website cited.
The Asean countries are the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei.
More than 640 million people live in the region, many of whom faithfully follow football, even though their national teams are relatively small and have never qualified for the World Cup.
The idea of hosting the World Cup in Asean was first discussed At the beginning of the decade, advocates said the move could help improve the profile and integration of the region.
However, experts said more needed to be done to clarify the details of how the 1
"The hosting of the World Cup would strengthen Asean's global position, and for the first time a regional interstate bloc would make a successful sporting event meaningful," said Fuadi Pitsuwan, a political scientist at Chiang Mai University and a longtime advocate of the initiative towards Reuters.
The Asean bid would also compete with China, which is widely regarded as a pioneer in hosting the next tournament in Asia.
"There is something to be gained by applying yourself, so winning the bid is secondary, it's about promoting the regionalism of the Asean to create a sense of community," he said.
"Friendly competition with China in this area is a great cohesion that is much better than political and social tensions."
The 2002 edition was the only world championship hosted by more than one nation, with the exception of the US, Canada and Mexico hosting the 2026 tournament together.
Myanmar and Thailand have expressed interest in co-hosting the U20 World Cup in 2021, FIFA announced last month. Indonesia is one of the countries that think about an individual offer for t The tournament.
Al Jazeera and news agencies