The President of football’s governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Gianni Infantino yesterday expressed his excitement on the news of ASEAN’s bid to host the 2034 World Cup which he said will have an incredible social impact and help grow the football movement further in the region.
FIFA President made these comments at press conference at the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) following a meeting with His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, President of NFABD; and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin.
The meeting with His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah and the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports aimed to discuss football development in Brunei Darussalam and share FIFA’s vision as well as promoting its values.
The visit will also strengthen ties between FIFA and NFABD.
Infantino said, “It is a very interesting project. A bid to host the World Cup is very big. The fact that it kicks off now will give boost football in the whole region because with the bid, the countries and the region are confronted with the requirements to organise the World Cup.”
“This will bring world attention to ASEAN. The World Cup is not only a football competition. It is an event that has an incredible social impact.
“From my perspective as the President of FIFA, it will certainly help the football movement in the region grow much more.
“We from FIFA are interested in investing in the growth and we will help to support with expertise, documentation and football development here in the region,” he added.
Touching on football’s development in Brunei Darussalam, Infantino said that FIFA is focussing its spotlight on this part of the world for the future.
He said with the available infrastructures and facilities as well as the seriousness and professionalism of the NFABD, football looks set to grow further.
The FIFA President said, “It’s an honour to be in Brunei to pay a visit to the football community. We are here for the first time with a high level delegation to speak about football and how we can develop football in Brunei and the ASEAN region. I am happy to be able to work together.
“It’s not an easy undertaking to develop football in a country with a small population.
“However, football is developing well in Brunei. We need to make sure that there are more opportunities for the national team to play. If you play competitively, you will grow.
“The fact that a team from Brunei is the champion of Singapore Premier League 2019 shows that football is healthy in Brunei.”
According to reports, Thailand will lead a joint bid with four other ASEAN member countries for the 2034 FIFA World Cup.
The other four countries in the proposed joint bid are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
The proposal was welcomed and supported at the recent fifth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Sports in Manila, the Philippines.
The FIFA delegation included Deputy Secretary General-Football Mattias Grafstrom, CEO of FIFA Foundation Yuri Djorkaeff, Chief of Communications Onofre Costa, Director of Member Associations Asia and Oceania Sanjeevan Balasingam and President’s Office Manager Federico Raviglione.
The event concluded with the exchange of mementos between His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, and Infantino.