The UK government has committed to support a prospective bid from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to host the 2030 edition of football’s FIFA World Cup.
In a joint statement issued last night, the countries’ respective football associations welcomed the government’s pledge of £2.8m (€3.2m/$3.9m) to begin a potential bid for the showpiece event.
FIFA will formally open the bidding process for the 2030 World Cup in 2022. In the meantime, the English Football Association (FA) and its fellow national governing bodies will undertake feasibility work to assess the viability of a bid.
In an interview with The Sun, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are very, very keen to bring football home in 2030. I do think it’s the right place.
“It’s the home of football, it’s the right time. It will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country.”
The £2.8m to support the bid will be confirmed tomorrow (Wednesday) when Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces his 2021 Budget.
England has not hosted the World Cup since 1966. The country submitted a bid for the 2018 World Cup but only received two out of 22 potential votes from FIFA, with Russia ultimately awarded the tournament.
A joint statement from the FA and its fellow national governing bodies said: “Staging a FIFA World Cup would provide an incredible opportunity to deliver tangible benefits for our nations. If a decision is made to bid for the event, we look forward to presenting our hosting proposals to FIFA and the wider global football community.”
Other bids being lined up for the 2030 World Cup include a joint proposal from Spain and Portugal, and a separate proposal from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. China has also expressed an interest in hosting.
The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar, while the 2026 edition will be co-hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico.
England is scheduled to host a number of matches at this summer’s rescheduled UEFA European Championships, which are still set to take place in 12 cities across the continent. Wembley will host England’s three group-stage matches, as well as a last-16 fixture, both semi-finals and the final.
There have been reports that the rate of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in the UK could mean that the entirety of Euro 2020 takes place in the country. Although Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently played down the suggestion, the Prime Minister has said that the UK would be open to staging more fixtures if needed.
He told The Sun: “We are hosting the Euros. We are hosting the semis and the final. If there’s, you know, if they want any other matches that they want hosted, we’re certainly on for that but at the moment that’s where we are with UEFA.”
Euro 2020 is scheduled to run from June 11 to July 11, with other host cities to include Glasgow, Dublin, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Munich, Rome, Copenhagen, Budapest, Bucharest, Saint Petersburg and Baku.
The Prime Minister’s comments come after the government last week announced its roadmap for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which could see crowds return across England from mid-May.
Step 3 of the roadmap, which would come into effect no earlier than May 17, would see up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower, allowed at large outdoor venues. Step 4 of the roadmap would come into effect no earlier than June 21 and would potentially allow larger events to take place, with no legal limits on social contact.