Tourism Minister sets Thailand the goal of securing the World Cup finals from 2038. Incoming Minister Sermsak Pongpanich raises the possibility as Thailand hosts the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok. Plan aims for a joint bid with Southeast Asian nations.

Last week, incoming Minister of Tourism and Sports, Sermsak Pongpanich, raised the possibility of Thailand bidding to host the World Cup. The new minister suggested the ambition as the country geared up to host the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok from May 13 to 17. Mr Sermsak suggested a bid in conjunction with other Southeast Asian nations. It comes with the hosts of the events already confirmed for 2026, 2030 and 2034. Previously, a 2019 initiative between Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries fell through in favour of Saudi Arabia, which secured the rights to the 2034 event last October.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (left), who flew into Bangkok last Sunday, shakes hands with Thai football chief Nualphan Lamsam, President of the Football Association of Thailand under royal patronage. (Inset) New Minister of Tourism and Sports Sermsak Pongpanich. Mr Sermsak raised the prospect as he took up office last Wednesday in Bangkok.

Thailand’s new Minister of Tourism and Sports, Sermsak Pongpanich, has raised the possibility of a Thai bid to stage the World Cup in conjunction with other Southeast Asian nations.

The 78-year-old former Culture Minister, who switched roles with outgoing Tourism Minister Sudawan Wang-Suphakitkosol at the end of April, is brimming with ideas for the role.

Hosting of the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok an opportunity for Thailand to build credibility for a future World Cup bid to the football governing body

Mr Sermsak told reporters this week that hosting the FIFA World Congress is a milestone for the kingdom. FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the governing body of world football (or soccer).

On Sunday, delegations flew in from all over the world to Bangkok. The congress will see 3,000 international visitors to Thailand. The event is drawing the leadership of world football.

Founded in 1904, FIFA has hundreds of member bodies representing all countries in the world. This includes six continental football organisations. 

They include UEFA in Europe and CONMEBOL in South America. In addition, there is the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) representing North and Central America. The list also includes the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) for Africa, while Asia is represented by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

On Sunday, the president of that international body, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, flew into Bangkok.

World Summit runs from Monday, May 13th to Friday, May 17th overseen by FIFA’s high-profile President Gianni Infantino who flew into Bangkok on Sunday 

The 74th FIFA Congress commenced on Monday, May 13th, and runs until Friday, May 17th. Meanwhile, the venue is the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok. Significantly, Thailand will be playing host to 211 different international delegations.

At the same time, Sunday also saw the arrival of high-profile FIFA President Gianni Infantino. He expressed delight at being in Thailand. Mr Infantino, an Italian Swiss official, is the high-profile leader of FIFA after assuming the role from Sepp Blatter in 2016. 

Indeed, Mr Blatter was forced out over rampant corruption claims. Afterwards, the FIFA organisation faced an ongoing corruption crisis.

In short, this saw criminal probes linked to its officials in the United States, Australia, France, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland.

 ‘I am delighted to be back in Bangkok for the 74th FIFA Congress, and it will be a great opportunity to meet with friends, colleagues, football legends, and leaders from across the world,’ the international football boss wrote on social media. ‘Many thanks to the president of FA Thailand @panglamsam and her team for the warm welcome. I am looking forward to discussing our beautiful game with everyone here over the next week!’

World Cup host countries already decided for three finals ahead with the next available World Cup final up for grabs being the 2038 finals in 14 years time

Presently, the World Cup venues for 2026, 2030, and 2034 have already been decided.

The United States, Mexico, and Canada will host the event in two years’ time following Qatar in 2022.

After that, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco will stage the games. However, in that competition, three ‘celebratory’ games will be played on the continents of South America. These will take place in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Saudi Arabia clinched the race to hold the 2034 event in October 2023. The decision was announced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

At this point, Thailand would be hoping for a similar proposal in conjunction with other Southeast Asian nations bidding for 2038 or even 2042. There is some opinion that the next World Cup award should go to either Africa or Asia.

Mr Sermsak was speaking Wednesday last as he took up office at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. He said that undoubtedly hosting the FIFA Congress this week would boost the kingdom’s credibility.

A bid to host the 2038 event would have to be prepared and lodged for a decision in 2030.

On Friday, the next Women’s World Cup host in 2027 will be decided in Bangkok between Brazil and a European host group. Brazil is currently the favourite

Meanwhile, in Bangkok on Friday, May 17th, the next location for the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be decided.

It is a tussle between Brazil and a combined proposal from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. The last venue was Australia and New Zealand.

Significantly, the Brazil bid has scored higher on evaluations to be presented to the meeting by FIFA.

Certainly, the goal for Thailand to be the host of a future World Cup is not pie in the sky.

This was confirmed this week by the Governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), Gongsak Yodmanee. He defined it as a key mission for his agency.

Nevertheless, it is a difficult challenge, and the process takes stupendous resources, skill and time. At the same time, it should be said, with very good reason.

World Cup is the biggest sports event on earth drawing 5 billion viewers. Even with other Southeast Asian countries, winning it would be a herculean task

Undeniably the World Cup is the biggest sports event on earth.

The viewership of the international competition reaches 5 billion people. In addition to this, the World Cup confers prestige on the host nation.

Similarly, Thailand with its international tourism industry in addition to the popularity of the game in the kingdom would gain exponentially.

In short, the hosting of the event in the country would have long-term benefits as well as short-term ones.

Of course, that is why it has long been a dream of Thai officials and sports bodies.

World Cup is all set to be available on free-to-air TV in a vital boost to the foreign tourism industry

For instance, Mr Gongsak said that planning for such a bid has been in place since 2019, 5 years ago. The aim previously was the 2034 World Cup. 

2019 World Cup bid plans fizzled in favour of Saudi Arabia

Several Southeast Asian nations, including Thailand, established a technical working group to make progress on the project. However, this dissolved in favour of the ultimately successful Saudi Arabian bid revealed last year.

In the meantime, tourism industry sources say this week’s event will generate ฿228 million in revenue and contribute ฿126 million to the economy. In effect, it will go towards creating 160 jobs in Thailand.

Undoubtedly, a World Cup event hosted in Thailand would be a massive boost for the kingdom. Nonetheless, it faces stiff competition in the world of international football. Indeed, it is a highly geared environment where money talks and raw power is at play.

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here
Follow Thai Examiner here

Further reading:

World Cup all set to be available on free-to-air TV in a vital boost to the foreign tourism industry

Flight connectivity dogs tourism recovery as Immigration Bureau warns travellers of delays

Travel to Thailand rebounding despite inflation and higher fares, now nearly 2 million a month

Thailand turns to Russia as foreign tourist revenue is projected to be only 21% of 2019 record figure

Thailand’s once mighty foreign tourism industry lastingly damaged with lower spends and numbers

Nightlife until 4 am as poll shows plans to move foreign tourism upmarket a ‘recipe for disaster’

Thai economy in an upswing with over 1 million foreign tourists in July powering higher GDP gains

Negative reaction and horror at Thailand’s plan to charge foreigners more than locals at hotels

Anutin: time to halt foreign tourism price deals, Thailand to be the Louis Vuitton of the world travel market

Good news from airports as arrivals help offset damage from inflation and supply chain blocks caused by war

Fears for the baht as it hits a 15-year low and Thai economic performance in the medium term with chronic ills

World inflation crisis may lead Bank of Thailand to act before August and raise interest rates more sharply

Concern for the Thai baht and liquidity if Thailand does not move swiftly to raise interest rates

Good economic news, test now is how to emerge from stagflation with large price shock looming as inflation rises

Prolonged Ukraine war to see Thai inflation at 6.3%, a stalled economy and a possible downgrade

Oil still boss as Thailand’s economy faces a return to 1970s stagflation over the ongoing Ukraine war