ASEAN football in motions

By Patipat Kittichokwattana

Football is perhaps the most popular sport of the world. It widely plays in every country at all ages and genders. Recorded evidences show that ASEAN people have been playing football nearly 200 years. In Vietnam, football can be traced its roots in 1896 during the era of the French colonial empire. The Philippines was known to football around 1895 by English men and some Filipinos who returned home after graduated from Hong Kong and China. Thailand was introduced to football by English-educated Thai elites around 1897.While football in Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar has begun since the first day of British colony.

ASEAN nation has been trying to develop their national football team since day one. Indonesia found to be the first successful national team that qualified for the FIFA World Cup tournament in 1938 hosted by France. However, this was before the declaration of independence, so they competed with the Dutch East Indies national football team. Unfortunately, no ASEAN men’s team can qualify to the FIFA World Cup final round as Indonesia did in the early football history. Fortunately, instead of men’s team, Thailand women’s team did the biggest step in the modern football era as they participated in 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Summer Olympics is another sport event to demonstrate the successful of ASEAN national football team. Football has been included in summer Olympics since 1896 and it found easier for ASEAN nations to qualify for the final round. There were four countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand that could participate in this event. In 1956, Indonesia and Thailand had got their first step in Olympics. Indonesia did a better result as they ended with the 5th place while Thailand was the 9th place. Thailand did again in 1968 and ended with 16th place. Later, Malaysia and Myanmar took their first step in 1972 and ended with 10th and 9th place respectively.

Instead of tournament results, the FIFA ranking seems more practical indicator of national performance. It has been developing since 1993 to collect a long-term result of the national football team competition and calculate with precise and complicate formula. Currently, Vietnam is ranked the first among ASEAN nations at 100th but its best was 98th in 2003. Thailand showed the consistent performance by average ranking at 97th. They also gained the highest rank of all ASEAN nations at 45th in 1998 as a satisfactory result in ASEAN Football Championship (AFC Tiger Cup) and Asian games.

Country FIFA ranking
Current1 Highest2 Lowest2 Average2
Vietnam 100 98 (2003) 172 (2006) 121
Philippines 114 120 (2016) 191 (2005) 162
Thailand 118 45 (1998) 146 (2013) 97
Myanmar 139 104 (1996) 172 (2011) 142
Indonesia 160 87 (2001) 179 (2015) 127
Singapore 165 75 (1993) 172 (2017) 123
Malaysia 167 79 (1993) 174 (2017) 132
Cambodia 172 162 (1998) 189 (2013) 177
Laos 184 143 (1997) 182 (2017) 166
Brunei 195 151 (1993) 202 (2011) 185
Timor-Leste 196 170 (2015) 205 (2011) 192

Remark: 1updated November 2018; 2since FIFA world ranking creation

Today, football is not only an exercise but a professional sport. Almost every ASEAN nation established professional leagues that implements both science and management to win the competition. Football players and clubs have been developing toward full potential. The club is funded and talent player is hired with a big amount of money and flow across country’s border. Football is commercialized and ASEAN football is globalized more than we can imagine.

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Patipat Kittichokwattana is PaddyNews writer