ASEAN World Cup bid soon?

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Prime Minister Hun Sen shakes hands with French World Cup ‘98 winner Christian Karembeu on June 15. SPM

Prime Minister Hun Sen urged all ASEAN member states to be united in making a bid to host the World Cup. The premier said he would raise the topic with the bloc leaders in his capacity as the ASEAN chair this year with the proposed dates for hosting the World Cup being 2034 or 2038.

Hun Sen proposed the idea at an event for the FIFA World Cup Trophy, which arrived in Cambodia for the first time since the body formed in 1974. The trophy is on a publicity tour ahead of the tournament, which kicks off in Doha, Qatar, in November.

The trophy was brought here by Christian Karembeu – a former French professional footballer who serves as the special mission representative of football’s world governing body, FIFA.

“For 2022, as ASEAN chair, I want to see ASEAN have a vision and plan to make a bid to host the football World Cup in 2034 or 2038. I will look into the feasibility and request that ASEAN leaders support this initiative and make it a realistic possibility,” he said.

Hun Sen also gave a jersey to Karembeu as a message to FIFA’s leadership that ASEAN wished to host the next available World Cup to showcase the region’s strength to the rest of the world.

“I would like to send this message along with my jersey – which I received from the FIFA director-general when we signed an agreement between ASEAN and FIFA in Bangkok in 2019 – via Christian Karembeu. ASEAN wishes to make a bid to host the World Cup and I will push forward this initiative,” he said.

Asia has hosted the World Cup twice. The first time was in 2002, when it was held in both Japan and South Korea and this year it is taking place in Qatar.

Holding the trophy made from 6.175kg of 18 karat gold, Hun Sen said: “On behalf of the government, I am proud – like other heads of state – to hold this meaningful World Cup trophy. This trophy is the symbol of billions of people on planet Earth who love the principle of justice in football.”

Hun Sen has said on many occasions that there is no real international standards for human rights or other political matters, but there is in sport due to the simpler nature of organised international competitions.

“When the trophy arrived in the Kingdom of Cambodia, it was evidence for the world and for the three billion-plus football fans that the Cambodian people are enjoying peace, living in harmony under improving living conditions and development in all sectors,” he said.

Hun Sen also called on the world to pay attention to Cambodia when the Kingdom hosts the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) next year for the first time in the nation’s history.

“As The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour is coincident with Cambodia’s preparations to host the 2023 SEA Games and the ASEAN Paragames, I call on sport lovers around the world to support these historic events taking place in Cambodia when we play host to these major ASEAN sporting events,” he said.