The Jakarta Post
ASEAN members are focusing on important emerging issues in the region and have opted to approach them using soft diplomacy, with soccer as one of their tools.
Deputy ASEAN secretary-general for community and corporate affairs AKP Mochtan told a discussion with editors grouped under the Asia News Network (ANN) in Jakarta over the weekend that among the issues was the region's plan to propose that country members bid to be the host countries for the World Cup in 2034 and set up the so-called ASEAN Soccer Super League.
'The ASEAN sports ministers plan to submit a bid to host the 2034 World Cup in 2019,' Mochtan said.
He added that to host the World Cup in 2034, ASEAN countries would need to carry out thorough preparations and feasibility studies.
Previously, 10 ASEAN members that attended the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Sports (AMMS) in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 13 agreed to conduct a feasibility study in their bid to jointly host the 2034 World Cup.
According to Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who led the meeting, ASEAN has less than four years to finalize the study and present it to their respective governments.
'Four countries will play host and the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) will handle the mechanism of the organizational plans through the respective soccer associations,' Khairy said as quoted by Malaysian newspaper The Star.
Meanwhile, the plan to propose the ASEAN Soccer Super League is still under consultation with a professional soccer league expert. 'This is a professional league and it doesn't really need government supervision,' Mochtan said. He hopes the league can kick off in 2017 if FIFA accepts the proposal.
However, he did not touch on the matter of Indonesia being banned from competition by FIFA due to prolonged internal dispute and government interference.
Mochtan pointed out that these plans would support the ASEAN Secretariat's efforts to show the region's true capacity, if it was successfully implemented.
Mochtan highlighted the need to have a Schengen-style visa system to allow easier travel for working professionals from ASEAN member countries. This, he said, would be one of many important efforts to support the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of this year.
'As an important milestone for ASEAN, the AEC is not just about the harmonization and liberation of trade between the member states but would promote a sense of unity among ASEAN citizens,' he said.
He also expressed hope that meetings held by the ASEAN Secretariat could be fully covered and disseminated through all ANN mass media platforms and social networking in the future.
'Many of our meetings have not been covered by the media,' he said. Now the challenge was how to disseminate the news to the 600 million people in the region, he added. He cited the importance of mass media's role in covering ASEAN news and disseminating it to ASEAN citizens.
The ANN is a network of 21 media groups from 18 Asian countries. The network established in 1999 to provide avenues for cooperation and to optimize coverage of major news events in the region. (ind)
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