Football: Asean mulling 2034 World Cup bid - Myanmar

Fifa president Gianni Infantino (right) and Myanmar Football Federation president Zaw Zaw converse during a visit to the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Feb 17, 2017.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino (right) and Myanmar Football Federation president Zaw Zaw converse during a visit to the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Feb 17, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

YANGON (AFP) - Asean on Friday (Feb 17) held talks on launching a joint bid for the World Cup in 2034 during a visit by Fifa chief Gianni Infantino to Yangon, the head of Myanmar's football federation said.

Football officials from the 10-member South-east Asian bloc are keen to capitalise on Infantino's decision to expand the tournament to 48 teams by 2026, said Myanmar Football Federation chairman Zaw Zaw.

"Today, this morning, we had a council meeting (about when) we're going to host the World Cup in Asean," he told crowds gathered for the opening of a new football academy in Yangon. "We were discussing 2034."

Infantino, the head of football's governing body, has backed allowing up to three countries to host the event instead of expecting one bidder to provide a dozen stadiums.

"I support co-hosting, which opens of course the doors to many associations, and Asean is a region which is passionate about football," he told reporters.

"For a country alone in the Asean region it's difficult to host the World Cup, but for several countries why not?"

The decision to expand the World Cup has delighted footballing minnows in Asia, titillated by the once impossible prospect of making the showpiece tournament.

Asian countries have largely failed to make an impact at the event, which is dominated by European and South American teams, although co-hosts South Korea reached the semi-finals in 2002.

South-east Asian football attracts enormous support but it has frequently been plagued by match-fixing, as seen by the suspension of four Laos internationals late last year.

Infantino told reporters the larger World Cup would allow "teams all over the world to dream to be able to participate".