UK and Ireland to focus on Euro 2028 bid as World Cup plans dropped

The football associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland have today (Monday) announced their intention to focus on a joint proposal to host the 2028 edition of the UEFA European Championship, ending plans to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

The announcement follows an extensive feasibility study, which included an analysis of the economic impact, the political football landscape and likely costs of hosting major international tournaments.

In a joint statement, the associations claimed that hosting Euro 2028 would offer a similar return on investment to the 2030 World Cup, with the former carrying a “far lower” delivery cost. It is also felt that the potential benefits of hosting Euro 2028 would be realised sooner.

“It would be an honour and a privilege to collectively host UEFA EURO 2028 and to welcome all of Europe,” the statement said. “It would also be a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the true impact of hosting a world-class football tournament by driving positive change and leaving a lasting legacy across our communities.

“We believe the UK and the Republic of Ireland can offer UEFA and European football something special in 2028 – a compact and unique five-way hosting collaboration that will provide a great experience for the teams and the fans.”

The associations will continue to work with government partners in the UK and Ireland over the next steps for the bid.

UEFA officially opened the bidding process for Euro 2028 back in October. Interested member associations have until March to declare their interest, with the appointment of the host(s) set to take place in September 2023.

Euro 2028 is set to take place over 51 matches and feature 24 teams, as has been the case for the previous two tournaments. UEFA said joint bids are permitted, provided that the bidding countries are geographically compact.

Interested parties will need to provide 10 stadiums, with a minimum of one venue having a seating capacity of at least 60,000. A minimum of four stadiums must have a capacity of 40,000, and a minimum of three must seat 30,000.

In March last year, the UK Government had committed to supporting a prospective bid from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to host the 2030 World Cup. The government pledged £2.8m (€3.3m/$3.8m) to begin a potential bid for the showpiece event, but the home nations have now opted to pursue a bid for Euro 2028 instead.

According to The Times, the decision to focus on a Euro 2028 bid comes following advice from senior figures within football that a World Cup bid would be “too risky” following England’s failed bid for the 2018 tournament.

London’s Wembley Stadium hosted several matches during last year’s postponed Euro 2020, including the two semi-finals and the final. The final was marred by crowd trouble as ticketless fans illegally forced their way into Wembley for the match between Italy and England.

UEFA is not said to be overly concerned by the crowd trouble, and in December the governing body announced that a stadium in London would host a one-off match between Euro 2020 winner Italy and Copa América champion Argentina on June 1 next year.

Glasgow’s Hampden Park also staged matches during Euro 2020, which took place in 11 cities across Europe.

Russia and Turkey have previously been mooted as potential Euro 2028 hosts. A joint bid from Spain and Portugal is now expected to be the sole European proposal to host the 2030 World Cup.

Germany landed hosting rights to Euro 2024 in September 2018, with the tournament to be held in 10 stadia across the country. UEFA chose Germany over a rival bid from Turkey. Germany gained 12 of the UEFA Executive Committee votes to Turkey’s four, with one abstention.

Image: Dolapo Ayoade on Unsplash

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