The ten ASEAN member states have agreed to establish a joint task force aimed at securing hosting rights for the 2034 FIFA World Cup. The decision gained traction during the seventh ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Sports (AMMS-7), held in Thailand from August 26 to September 2.

Representing Hang Chuon, Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport, Vath Chamroeun, secretary of state at the education ministry, led a delegation to AMMS-7.

Chamroeun said the participants deliberated on key aspects of sporting development within ASEAN and, more importantly, highlighted the pursuit of the bidding process for the 2034 World Cup, in line with a proposition by former Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“ASEAN stands prepared to vigorously pursue the opportunity to host the World Cup. The former prime minister advocated for this initiative within the ASEAN framework, with the aim of reaching this objective,” Chamroeun said, after returning to the Kingdom.

“Thailand, presiding over the meeting, acknowledged Cambodia as a viable contender due to the Morodok Techo National Stadium’s adherence to ASEAN standards. The requirement is for 11 venues with FIFA-standard specifications, each accommodating 40,000 to 80,000 seats,” he said.

Chamroeun noted, however, that the country’s capacity did not extend to hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the grand event, citing FIFA’s stipulation of an arena capable of accommodating over 80,000 spectators for such ceremonies. The national stadium can hold approximately 60,000 spectators, thus precluding it from fulfilling this role.

Addressing the preparations for the bidding process, Chamroeun expressed concerns regarding three prominent contenders from larger nations: China, Australia and New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia.

“These nations pose as major rivals to ASEAN’s bid,” he said.

“Thus, during AMMS, our collective efforts were channelled towards countering their influence. Hosting the World Cup is a means to showcase ASEAN’s potential and draw global attention, making it a crucial aspect to address,” he explained.

Within this context, the bloc’s other member countries also extended their commendations to Cambodia for successfully organising the 32nd SEA Games and the 12th ASEAN Para Games.

“We received high praise from all ASEAN nations for the remarkable execution of [the Games]. Notably, Japan followed suit by sending over 50 assessment experts, who hailed the Kingdom’s inaugural hosting of these events as a source of pride and honour for our nation,” he added.