Malaysia has voiced its support for Asean’s bid to jointly host the FIFA World Cup in 2034. -- Reuters photo

BANGKOK: Malaysia has voiced its support for Asean’s bid to jointly host the FIFA World Cup in 2034.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said five Asean countries had mooted the idea during the 34th Asian Summit.

As such, there is now a possibility of the competition being played in this region.

“We felt that alone (each country by itself), we would never have the chance of hosting the event but, maybe, with all Asean countries together, we might be able to host the World Cup,” he told Malaysian media at the closing of the 34th Asean Summit here.

Dr Mahathir said the matches could be played in a number of Asean countries, similar to when Japan and South Korea hosted the tournament in 2002.

Earlier during the summit, Asean chairman General Prayut Chan-o-cha said Asean leaders had pledged their support for the region to launch a joint bid to host the event.

“Asean leaders supported and shared the same sentiment for the region to develop a joint bid to become a co-host for the World Cup,” said the Thai prime minister.

“I wish to invite all the Asean people to collectively support their respective countries’ football associations with a view to realising this dream to be achieved together.”

Yesterday, after a meeting with his Asean counterparts, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai had raised the possibility that the region could launch a joint bid to host the 2034 World Cup, saying it could materialise 15 years from now.

Last year, former FIFA executive committee member, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, was reported as saying that the football governing bodies from Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam had expressed an interest in a joint bid for the 2034 World Cup.

He said it was time for the Asean region to be given an opportunity to become a co-host as it would allow the countries to improve their infrastructures and strengthen their national teams.

The King was also quoted as saying that there wouldn’t be any problems if Malaysia were to become a co-host.

In 2017, Indonesia’s football association had announced that the country was set to lead a consortium of Southeast Asian countries in an ambitious bid to host the 2034 World Cup.

The deadline to register a bid for the event is 2026.