Sport

Fifa, Asean sign deal to cooperate on football in the region

Fifa, Asean sign deal to cooperate on football in the region

BANGKOK — Fifa and Asean have inked a deal to catalyse social development and healthy lifestyles in the region through football.

The agreement will see both parties invest in education, especially in Fifa’s Football for Schools program which aims to incorporate the sport into physical education.

Both groups will also work to promote inclusive football, with a focus on women and marginalised communities.

They also aim to focus on child safeguarding and boost sporting integrity through a raised awareness of clean and fair play.

“After some decades of discussion among all the Asean countries, finally we found the one topic that unites everyone. It’s this – it’s football,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino at the signing ceremony at the Asean Summit in Bangkok on Saturday (Nov 2).

Addressing Asean leaders, he added: “People in your countries, businesses in your countries invest 10 times more in European football, than in football in Asean. We need to invest in Asean.”

Fifa has taken part in a number of similar collaborations with other international groupings in the past year. They include the Group of 20 (G-20), Council of Europe and African Union.

Asean Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi said: “Football, and sport in general, is a strategic means for bringing people together, promoting greater people-to-people connectivity, and binding us stronger as one community.”

The deal comes a month after the 10 Asean nations agreed to set up a technical working group to look into the possibility of hosting the 2034 Fifa World Cup.

Led by Thailand, the group also includes members from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Others that have shown interest in staging the 2034 World Cup include China, Egypt, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and joint bidders Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Infantino said he was pleased with Asean’s World Cup bid, adding: “This is something that is worth pursuing for such a big part of the world. We have to work to invest in football, in club competitions, in a true Asean champions league.”