By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia has held discussions with Indonesia about making a joint bid for the 2034 FIFA World Cup, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said on Thursday.
The FFA confirmed to Reuters it had met Indonesian soccer federation (PSSI) officials at an ASEAN meeting last week.
“Football Federation Australia confirms it has held discussions with the Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) about the possibility to jointly bid for the 2034 FIFA World Cup,” the FFA said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
“An Indonesia-Australia joint bid was also discussed at last week’s ASEAN Football Federation Council Meeting in Laos.”
The revelation comes days after Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said 10 countries from the ASEAN bloc, including Indonesia, would bid for the tournament at a news conference in Bangkok on Sunday.
The FFA said it noted the joint South East Asian bid was endorsed at the ASEAN summit.
“FFA welcomes the opportunity to further discuss a ASEAN bid for the 2034 FIFA World Cup with fellow Member Associations in the region,” the statement added.
The FFA declined to elaborate as to whether the talks between Australia and Indonesia were ongoing or had been shelved after the ASEAN announcement.
Australia was a candidate in the controversial bidding process for the 2022 World Cup awarded to Qatar but managed to win only one vote from FIFA’s executive council members in 2010.
The bid failure, funded by over A$40 million (22 million pounds) of government money, triggered criticism of the FFA and its methods after it emerged that the federation had funnelled money into development projects with ties to FIFA exco members.
Indonesian media, citing PSSI secretary general Ratu Tisha, reported on Wednesday that Indonesia had decided to partner with Australia after Thailand had pulled out of the 2034 bid because it was “not ready”.
The 2026 World Cup is being jointly hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Multiple countries have expressed interest in making joint bids for the 2030 finals, including South American and eastern European nations.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney and Sudipto Ganguly)