UEFA to welcome Ireland, UK Euro 2028 bid


UK to favour EURO bid instead of WC Image: Wembley Stadium

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) would welcome a bid for the 2028 European Championship from the Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom (UK) after hopes of bringing the 2030 World Cup there began to fade.

‘The Irish Times’ stated that the English Football Association (FA) is undertaking a feasibility study into a World Cup bid after receiving £2.8 million of funding from the UK Government. But while a final decision has not been taken, senior figures in the organization believe any bid is unlikely to succeed.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is the administrative body for football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe, as well as Armenia, Cyprus, Israel, and the Asian parts of some transcontinental countries. It is one of six continental confederations of world football’s governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.

It is understood the Scottish Football Association is also uncertain over making a commitment to the 2030 project after proposed funding for the refurbishment of the 51,866-capacity Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, as part of the deal was not forthcoming from Whitehall.

‘The Irish Times’ further stated that the Conservative party made a 2030 bid part of its 2019 election manifesto, and last summer Boris Johnson said it was “the right time” to “bring football home”.

The pledge was made alongside a commitment to put £550 million into the game in the UK, with £50 million released last year.

A World Cup bid is likely to face several challenges, however, not least the prospect of a strong rival European candidacy in the form of a joint bid from Spain and Portugal, and a shared South American offering on the centenary of the first World Cup in Uruguay. UEFA’s President Aleksander Čeferin has said he wants to back only one European bid.

In a failed bid to secure the 2018 World Cup, the English Football Association received only two votes in 2010, and although the process now gives a vote to each of the 211 members of the FIFA congress, a UK and Ireland vote is again likely to struggle to reach widespread support.

Gaining traction

An alternative European Championship bid has, therefore, been gaining traction inside the five associations, and relations with UEFA are strong despite the unrest at the Euro 2020 final last year. Čeferin said that the incident “could have happened anywhere”, calling London “a great hub” for hosting a major sporting event.

The UEFA recently announced that a one-off match between Italy, the European champions and Argentina, the Copa América winners, would take place at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium in London (UK) in June.

At the 2028 European Championship the number of competing teams could be expanded to 32, with the facilities offered by the five nations likely unrivaled by alternative bidders.

Any proposal to host the 2030 World Cup must be submitted to the FIFA Council before a meeting of the Congress on March 31st. The English FA did not comment on the possibility of not proceeding, but referred to a previous joint statement about the feasibility study which 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.”

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