SINGAPORE: It will be "difficult" for Goal 2034 to succeed if it is not supported by the country, said the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) following comments made by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Senior Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng in Parliament that the target is not one set by the Government.
"Goal 2034 is necessarily a longer term aspiration. It is a goal which the FAS is happy to lead, but it must be a goal of the country, and all its stakeholders. This gives us the best chance of succeeding," said the FAS executive committee in a statement issued late Friday night (Mar 6).
"In that vein, it is surprising to hear Baey Yam Keng say in Parliament that Goal 2034 is not a goal of the Government, and that is it only a goal of the FAS. That was not our understanding.
"We will have to clarify this with MCCY, to ascertain if this represents MCCY’s position. If Goal 2034 is not a goal which the country can support, then it would be very difficult for it to succeed. We will seek to discuss this with MCCY at the earliest opportunity."
This follows comments made by Mr Baey in Parliament earlier on Friday that Goal 2034, a plan which entails the Singapore national football team qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in 2034, is a goal not set by the Government but by FAS.
"Goal 2034 is a goal set by FAS. It's not a goal set by the Government. So the role of the Government is to support our NSA (National Sports Association) where possible," said Mr Baey, responding to questions during MCCY's Committee of Supply debate.
"We've asked FAS for a briefing on how they aim to achieve the goal. We had a discussion and we've given some inputs that they may want to look at their mid term and long term development plans for youth in order to achieve Goal 2034.
"I understand that FAS has taken the feedback and they are in the midst of talking to other stakeholders to achieve this vision."
FAS vice-president Edwin Tong had said in an interview with the Straits Times published in August last year that qualification for the FIFA World Cup in 2034 would be a "realistic" goal for Singapore.
This is not the first time that Singapore has set a target to play at football's showcase tournament.
In 1998, Singapore said it was aiming to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said the initiative, dubbed Goal 2010, was “bold and ambitious”.
Singapore's national team are currently ranked 157th in the world.
"Goal 2034 is a bold and ambitious project. It will not be easy for us to make it to the World Cup, but, as the NSA for football, the FAS is of the view that we must set bold targets, and we must try," said FAS.
"It starts with getting the basics right, organising our football development program and inspiring a younger generation of players to aim high.
"Goal 2034 was therefore conceived as a vision and a focal point, designed to galvanise our entire football ecosystem, from players and coaches in the grassroots, community, schools, and finally in elite football as well."