Indonesia is in discussions with Australia about a possible joint bid to host the 2034 World Cup along with Malaysia and Singapore, the president of the country’s football federation (PSSI) said on Wednesday.
World football’s governing body FIFA invited member associations from Asia and Oceania to bid for the rights to the 2034 edition last week.
“We are discussing (a bid) with Australia,” PSSI President Erick Thohir was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
“When I visited Malaysia and Singapore both countries expressed interest to join Indonesia and Australia.”
When asked for comment on a possible joint bid, Football Australia referred Reuters to a statement last week that said it was “exploring the possibility of bidding for the 2029 FIFA Club World Cup and/or the FIFA World Cup 2034”.
The Asian Football Confederation said it would not comment on the report. The PSSI, Football Association of Malaysia and Football Association of Singapore have not responded to a Reuters request for comment.
After announcing Spain, Morocco and Portugal would host the 2030 World Cup, with Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina staging the opening games, FIFA invited Asia and Oceania to bid for 2034.
Saudi Arabia quickly announced its intention to bid for the hosting rights and FIFA have set a deadline of Oct. 31 for other interested parties to make their intentions known.
The 2026 World Cup, which will feature 48 teams, will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
With Qatar having hosted the 2022 edition, Akmal Marhali of Indonesian football watchdog Save Our Soccer told the Herald it might be too soon for the World Cup to return to the Middle East.
“We are quite strong,” he said. “I think FIFA will see that the Middle East area has been the host with Qatar last year. Japan and Korea have been host too. I am sure FIFA will try other countries.
“The potential to win if we join with Australia, Malaysia and Singapore is bigger too.”
Indonesian football has grappled with a range of issues over the last year.
In March, the predominantly Muslim country was stripped of the right to host the Under-20 World Cup after the PSSI said it had cancelled the draw because the governor of Bali refused to host Israel’s team.
FIFA froze development funds allocated for the country’s football association as a sanction, but later appointed Indonesia as host of the Under-17 World Cup after Peru was unable to fulfil infrastructure commitments.
Indonesia also saw one of the world’s worst stadium disasters last year when 135 people died, mostly from asphyxiation, in a stampede after a match in the city of Malang.