Australia links up with Indonesia for 2034 World Cup effort

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has today (Thursday) confirmed it is in talks with the Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) with a view to submitting a joint bid for the 2034 Fifa World Cup.

The revelation comes just days after National leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) voiced support for a multi-territory bid to host the World Cup in the region in 2034. Australia wasn’t mentioned as part of the proposal at the time, but FFA has now stated it held talks with PSSI at last week’s meeting.

“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,” FFA told the Reuters news agency. “An Indonesia-Australia joint bid was also discussed at last week’s ASEAN Football Federation Council Meeting in Laos.”

FFA chief executive David Gallop added to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: “FFA is in very early discussions with the Indonesian Football Association about a joint bid for the 2034 Fifa World Cup. We welcome the opportunity to explore this further with other football associations in the region. A Fifa World Cup in Southeast Asia would be a wonderful event in a populous and passionate part of the football globe.”

The Herald added that while talks centred on Australia and Indonesia co-hosting, there is a strong chance a third Southeast Asian nation could form part of the bid. The newspaper reported that the Australian government has already been informally notified of the plan while the Indonesian government is backing a bid.

Indonesia has long been linked to being a lynchpin behind efforts to bring the World Cup to Southeast Asia and a PSSI executive told Reuters that the federation would be willing to work with “anyone” on a 2034 bid.

“Of course we welcome it (a joint bid with Australia) and we will work hard to make it happen,” Yoyok Sukawi, a member of the PSSI’s executive committee, said. “Indonesia is ready to work with anyone, it can be ASEAN, it can be with Australia.”

Australia’s return to the World Cup bidding table comes after its involvement in the controversial bidding process that saw Fifa award rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Australia had targeted the 2022 tournament, but received only one vote from Fifa’s Executive Committee members in the 2010 election. The FFA spent AUD$45.6m (€28m/$31.9m) of government money on the bid and its effort subsequently received strong criticism from a Fifa-appointed ethics investigator who found the federation had channelled money into development projects with ties to Fifa’s voting ExCo members.

In September 2013, FFA requested Fifa provide “just and fair” compensation for failed bidders of the 2022 World Cup and for disrupted domestic leagues should it move the tournament to winter.