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Vietnam discusses co-hosting 2034 FIFA World Cup

Vietnam discusses co-hosting 2034 FIFA World Cup

Thursday, April 13, 2023, 13:56 GMT+7
Vietnam discusses co-hosting 2034 FIFA World Cup
Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Final - Argentina v France - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - December 18, 2022 Argentina's Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup trophy alongside teammates as they celebrate winning the World Cup. Photo: Reuters

The Vietnam Sports Administration and the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) convened a meeting on Wednesday afternoon for comments on a joint bid with other ASEAN nations to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup.

The idea of a combined ASEAN bid has been floating around since 2011.

After much discussion, leaders of ASEAN countries and football officials from the ASEAN Football Federation have agreed to bid for co-hosting the 2034 edition of the tournament.

In 2017, ASEAN held talks on launching the joint effort with FIFA President Gianni Infantino during his visit to Myanmar.

In January that year, FIFA confirmed the 2026 World Cup would have 48 finalist teams, expanded from 32, so hosting the tourney in multiple countries was seen as a logical way to accommodate the increase.

In June 2019, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that all 10 nations of ASEAN had agreed to appeal for the co-hosting of the 2034 World Cup.

However, in October 2019, only five ASEAN countries officially proposed co-hosting the 2034 competition, with Thailand leading the initiative.

The other four countries in the proposed joint effort were Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The five ASEAN members not included in the proposal were Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

An aerial view of My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

An aerial view of My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

At that time, other countries also showed interest in staging the 2034 World Cup, including China, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and joint bidders Australia and New Zealand.

In June 2022, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was also the ASEAN chair at the time, voiced his support for the ASEAN bid.

About a month later, ASEAN held a meeting to discuss preparations for the idea, which concluded that building infrastructure that met FIFA’s requirements was a priority.

Does Vietnam stand a chance?

An official from the Vietnam Sports Administration told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper after Wednesday’s meeting that while ASEAN is expected to hold a meeting to discuss the joint bid and issue their final decision in June, the plan remains unclear and lacks detail.

The official also said that the country’s sports leaders are still unaware of the specific requirements for it to become one of the co-hosts, such as the number of stadiums it needs, budget forecasts, and infrastructure needed for event-related transportation.

“We have only had basic discussions and will request that ASEAN provide more information to competent authorities,” the official added.

Currently, My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, which often hosts national and international sports events, has a capacity of 40,000 people.

A man takes photos at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A man takes photos at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A VFF leader said that if Vietnam is chosen to co-host the group stage of the 2034 World Cup, the country will need more modern and larger stadiums.

Vietnam will have to add many FIFA-standard training fields, transportation infrastructure, healthcare infrastructure, and tournament operations that meet professional criteria.

Moreover, financial capacity is the most important factor that determines whether Vietnam and other ASEAN states can jointly host the 2034 World Cup, according to the VFF leader.

According to official statistics, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar cost over US$200 billion, making it the most luxurious and expensive edition in the tourney’s history.

For comparison, the 2018 World Cup in Russia had a budget of $13.2 billion.

Vietnam’s 2022 gross domestic product was estimated at $409 billion, according to the General Statistics Office.

Many experts commented at Wednesday’s meeting that Vietnam is unlikely to co-host the tournament with its current financial and infrastructure conditions, not to mention a lack of expertise.

“In the history of the FIFA World Cup, the tournament was jointly held only once in 2002 by South Korea and Japan,” said VFF chairman Tran Quoc Tuan. 

“The United States, Mexico, and Canada will jointly host the World Cup in 2026.”

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