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 By John Duerden

Southeast Asian nations could co-host 2034 World Cup, says official

Malaysia's member of the FIFA Council has suggested that Southeast Asian countries could combine to host the 2034 World Cup.

Tengku Abdullah, speaking to reporters after returning from the FIFA Congress in Moscow, said four countries from the region, which lies between India to the west and China to the east and is home to around 700 million people, would have a strong case when the decision is made in 2026.

"ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] has an opportunity and the strength to put up a joint bid as three or four countries are allowed to be co-hosts," the former Football Association of Malaysia chief said.

"It is similar to the United States, Canada and Mexico being joint hosts in 2026."

Abdullah added that there had been interest from Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, and there is precedent for such an arrangement in last year's Asian Cup, co-hosted by Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

He said he did not expect that it would be difficult to ensure government support because the issue had been discussed in the past.

"I guess there will be no problem if four countries show their interest to bid for the tournament in 2034. It may be much better," he said.

"It is time for the ASEAN region to be given an opportunity, and it will allow the countries to improve their infrastructures and strengthen their respective national teams ... there is enough time."

Last July, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), indicated that it was ready to look into a co-hosting arrangement.

"It has been talked about for some time and there is potential if we all work together," a PSSI official told ESPN FC. "This is a football-loving part of the world, it is developing quickly and would stage an amazing World Cup that nobody would forget."

However, he acknowledged that China would be a potential stumbling block, with the world's most populous country seen a front-runner when the global tournament returns to Asia after Qatar 2022.

Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.

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