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Asean Affairs  21  January 2011

World Cup in Asean?

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     21 January 2011

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Asean is exploring entering the competition for its 10 member-states to host the FIFA World Cup, the world’s biggest football tournament, in 2030.

The proposal was informally discussed by Asean foreign ministers in July 2010 in Hanoi and recently attracted a higher level of interest following last week’s Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Lombok, Indonesia, when the proposal became one of the retreat’s highlights.

“I am very pleased with the unprecedented level of enthusiasm across the Asean region, particularly among our sport communities, about the decision to explore Asean bid to host the 2030 World Cup,” said the Asean Secretary-General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, in a news release. “We are still at an early stage of consultations and strategic discussion,” he continued, “but the advice and opinions that have been generated are most valued, and we expect the debate to continue and widen because we really learn a great deal from the public exchange.”

Malaysia has been tasked to prepare a proposal for the competition to be presented to the Asean Leaders at the 18th Asean Summit and Related Summits in May. “The Asean Secretariat will work closely with Malaysia on this,” said Surin. “This will be a long and arduous campaign and we need to be comprehensive and strategic in our approach,” he added.

“If Asean can work together on this ambitious undertaking, our international prestige and profile will certainly be enhanced, and the confidence in Asean will definitely be increased,” said Surin. “The people will want to feel more ownership and identity of Asean, and be willing to participate more in Asean Community building efforts.”

Surin added that Asean still has to work with existing mechanisms of FIFA. “The Asean Football Federation (AFF) and the other sports authorities within Asean will certainly play an important role in this Herculean task,” he continued.

The World Cup is organised by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). Individually, all 10 Asean member-states are listed as FIFA’s member associations. The Cup is staged every four years.

Football is the most popular sport in the 10 Asean countries and if FIFA approves the Asean proposal, competition between member states to host the matches will be intense.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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