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Indonesia leads regional bid to co-host 2034 World Cup

Southeast Asian football associations to endorse proposal in September

JAKARTA -- The Football Association of Indonesia, commonly known as PSSI, said Thursday it has government support for a bid to co-host the 2034 FIFA World Cup with other Southeast Asian countries.

PSSI's bid in 2010 to host the 2022 World Cup went nowhere, not least because it failed to secure guarantees from its own government. The administration of President Joko Widodo, however, has given its blessing to another attempt, according to Joko Driyono, PSSI's acting secretary-general.

"The president is supportive," Driyono told the Nikkei Asian Review, adding that the chairman of PSSI had talked to Widodo a month ago. "The PSSI's and the government's intentions will be officially declared in September," he said.

Football associations in other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations lent support to the PSSI co-hosting initiative during a meeting of the ASEAN Football Federation last week. The AFF council will meet on the island of Bali in Indonesia and formally endorse the bid in September, said Driyono.

Driyono said the ambitious undertaking will require intense discussion and "extra effort" among AFF members to work out such matters as deciding which ASEAN members will host which parts of the quadrennial tournament, the biggest event in world football.

At present, there are nine years to the bid registration deadline in 2026, and 17 years to the actual tournament, providing some time for ASEAN to close gaps with potential rivals, including China

Far from ever having hosted the World Cup, no Southeast Asian country has even competed. The Philippines ranks only 126th in FIFA's global rankings, placing it first in the region and ahead of Indonesia at 175.

The management of football in Indonesia, meanwhile, is in notable disarray, with PSSI often afflicted by corruption and internal dissension. FIFA, world football's governing body despite being mired in its own serious controversies and corruption scandals, barred Indonesia from international competitions from May 2015 to May 2016 after the government intervened in PSSI affairs.

"We hope this bid will drive PSSI and others to upgrade ourselves," Driyono said. "This won't be just an attempt to act cool or show off -- this bid requires serious effort on our part."

Nikkei staff writer Wataru Suzuki contributed to this story.

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