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Which countries can represent Southeast Asia if this zone has the right to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup?

Which countries can represent Southeast Asia if this zone has the right to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup?

As a rule, if a nation win the right to host the FIFA World Cup, the host country will automatically attend the largest sporting event on the planet. However, things won't be that simple at the World Cup future tournaments!

That will happen to the United States (USA), Canada and Mexico when these countries co-organize the tournament in 2026 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - including 10 countries - with plans to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup!

Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei are the 10 countries that make up ASEAN - a famous area with thousands of passionate fans rushing to the stadiums for a ball match. (Timor-Leste and Australia are also part of the South East Asian Football Federation but they are not members of the association that gave the idea of co-hosting)

The World Cup could be kicked off in Southeast Asia after the leaders of the nations announced their plan to co-host. However, with Asia having only four finalists (plus half of the playoffs) to join 2022 FIFA World Cup and EIGHT at the 2026 FIFA World Cup, when the tournament increases the number of teams to 48, there is a possibility that 10 Southeast Asian countries will not be able to attend the tournament by default if bidding is successful.

Because the 2002 FIFA World Cup was the first time the tournament was organized by more than one country (Japan and Korea) and the 2026 tournament would be the first time there are more than two home teams, so we can say that we will seek to overcome the tournament's qualifiers as separate territories.

But, even with that, 10 Southeast Asian countries still have real opportunities to attend the 2034 FIFA World Cup and how can they do that? Let's read the article below!

Directly pass the FIFA World Cup Qualification

So far, no Southeast Asian nation has qualified for the FIFA World Cup - except Indonesia before its independence (known as the Dutch East Indies). They automatically attended the 1938 FIFA World Cup in France as the only team from Asia. But that does not mean that the Southeast Asian nations cannot afford to face the strongest teams in Asia to win a World Cup place in the next decade.

The increase of the World Cup to 48 teams could open opportunities for ASEAN countries because Asia will have 8 places to enter this popular tournament (although that number still accounts for only 17% of 46 countries which are members of the Asian Football Federation). Thus there is no reason that no one or even two Southeast Asian nations cannot pass the qualifying round in 2034.

Which countries can represent Southeast Asia if this zone has the right to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup?

Vietnam and Thailand are likely to be able to do this when Vietnam is currently among the top 15 Asian teams while Thailand is ranked 20th in Asia based on the latest FIFA table . Vietnam football was the regional champion after winning the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and also reached the last eight teams at the AFC Asian Cup 2019. This can be proved by their ability to compete with the elite of Asian football.

Meanwhile, Thai performances may have declined recently but they are still a long-time big man of Southeast Asia and have the most competitive domestic tournament in the region. They also reached the 16th round of the Asian Cup earlier this year before being defeated by the Chinese giant.

Automatically qualify as the home team

It is still very early when it comes to successful hosting for the 2034 World Cup and so far, we have only received official notice from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

But one thing we also know is that Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia are countries that currently have stadiums that can meet FIFA requirements in organizing the World Cup. Myanmar's Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon can also host matches if it is restored to match the standards of the world football authority.

Which countries can represent Southeast Asia if this zone has the right to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup?

Vietnam is a rising team in Asia and can qualify directly to attend the 48-team FIFA World Cup 

This shows that there are 7 Southeast Asian countries eligible to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup while the Philippines, Laos and Brunei could become training conditions for host countries because they currently lack facilities. However, it seems that FIFA's allocation of 7 World Cup reserves to homeowners is extremely unrealistic.

The US, Mexico and Canada are holding three entries when they co-hosted the 2026 World Cup (something that has not been resolved by FIFA) and it is likely that Southeast Asia will also have three to four tickets to the finals as the host. This will ensure that at least three (or four) Southeast Asian countries are present in the FIFA World Cup to create a regionally passionate atmosphere.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are eligible to become hosts when all four ASEAN countries have co-organized the AFC Asian Cup in 2007 and it is likely that these four countries will once again be selected to join FIFA 2034 World Cup as host. However, if one or two of these countries (most likely Vietnam or Thailand, as mentioned earlier) are eligible to attend due to their performances in the FIFA World Cup Qualification, they can give that ur ticket to one of the other neighbor teams.

Qualifying through the results of the play-off or 2033 AFF Cup

46 out of 48 positions at the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be divided among six regional Football League - AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC and UEFA. However, the remaining two positions will be decided by a six-team play-off tournament that will take place in the World Cup host country before the official tournament.

This tournament was originally set up to have a team of five federations (except UEFA) and an additional team from the host country federation. However, Southeast Asia can negotiate with FIFA to allocate two positions for host countries or in the worst case, there is more than one Southeast Asian country in the play-off round of six teams, to improve chances of attending FIFA World Cup.

Which countries can represent Southeast Asia if this zone has the right to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup?

Another possible solution is to attend the 2033 AFF Championship, a biennial tournament held among Southeast Asian countries, an event that brings two tickets to the World Cup regional finals. Teams that qualify for other ways (as the host or qualify) may be excluded from this round.

In summary, with the methods mentioned above, Southeast Asia may be optimistic about having at least three host teams at the World Cup in 2034. However, pushing is one thing and starting to work is another. All these plans need unity of many stakeholders and years to put into discussion and realize them.

But hey, firstly ASEAN must have to win the right to host the World Cup!