UK-Ireland EURO 2028 host a no-brainer


England and Ireland set to be hosting EURO 2028 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Football will be coming to the home nations, and the Republic of Ireland, after it was confirmed that a joint bid to host the men’s European Championship in 2028 would proceed unopposed.

‘The Guardian’ stated that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) said on October 4th that Turkey, who had expressed an interest in hosting the tournament, has now withdrawn its bid, leaving a clear run for the United Kingdom and Ireland offer.

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan, as well as some Asian countries such as Israel, Cyprus and Armenia. The UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Because of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.

The 2028 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA EURO 2028 or simply EURO 2028, will be the 18th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international football championship organized by UEFA for the men’s national teams of its member-associations.

‘The Guardian’ further stated that the news had been expected, with the UK and Ireland the favorite for 2028 ever since the English Football Association signaled it would not bid to host the men’s FIFA World Cup in 2030. The UEFA had wanted a mature football market to host the 2028 tournament, as it seeks to recoup revenues lost from the COVID-disrupted tournament of 2021. Turkey’s decision to express interest in 2028 and 2032 had complicated matters, but it has chosen to concentrate on a joint bid with Italy to host the 2032 edition.

With EURO 2028 to be contested by 24 teams, 10 venues across the five host countries have been proposed to the UEFA. Six of these venues, including the 42,640-capacity Villa Park, the 52,000-capacity St James’ Park and the Premier League club Everton F.C.’s as yet incomplete 52,888-capacity Everton Stadium, will be in England. The 51,866-capacity Hampden Park in Glasgow (Scotland), the 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium in Cardiff (UK), Dublin’s (Ireland) 51,700-capacity Aviva Stadium, and the 31,661-capacity Casement Park in Belfast (Northern Ireland) complete the list.

The UEFA would like England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales to go through the standard qualifying process for the tournament. Customarily, qualifying places are reserved for the host nations, with Poland and Ukraine guaranteed spots before they hosted the men’s EUROS in 2012. The UEFA is understood to be unwilling to extend the guaranteed places to five, which leaves the possibility of host nations missing out on their own tournament. The UEFA is expected to draft regulations that will minimize this risk before qualification for the tournament begins in 2026.

England and Scotland hosted matches during the delayed men’s EURO 2020 tournament, with Hampden and Wembley hosting six group stage matches between them and the English national stadium (the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium in London) hosting five matches in the knockout stages. The semi-final between England and Denmark and the final between England and Italy were marred by violent scenes there. The Football Association (FA) apologized for the “significant levels of crowd disorder” that accompanied the final, with the UEFA forcing England to play their next qualifying fixture behind closed doors. The European governing body was otherwise positive about the home nations-staged fixtures, with its President, Aleksander Čeferin, saying the Wembley disorder “could have happened anywhere” and calling London “such a great hub”.

London (UK)-based The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.

In April, The FA’s Chair, Debbie Hewitt, laid out the case for the United Kingdom and Ireland bid, describing it as “pioneering” and extolling the benefits for the domestic game of hosting the tournament – “We will focus on growing football, connecting with and engaging new fans, players and volunteers. We continue to invest £50m annually into grassroots football development across our five associations. Together, we want the UEFA EURO 2028 to be the catalyst for a new and sustainable era for football, from the grassroots to the very top of the European game.”

The UEFA confirmed the news in a statement saying, “Further to the announcement on July 28th which revealed the desire of the Italian and Turkish FAs to submit a joint bid to stage UEFA EURO 2032, the UEFA administration has today (October 4th) written to both the associations to confirm that their joint bid has been duly received and will go forward for assessment and consideration by the UEFA Executive Committee. As indicated by The FA of Türkiye with its submission of the request for a joint bid, their bid to stage the UEFA EURO 2028 is consequently withdrawn. The award of both tournaments still requires the approval of the Executive Committee at its meeting in Nyon (Switzerland) on October 10th. The presentations at that meeting will be an important part of the process which will take due consideration of the content of the bid submissions before reaching a decision.”

The UEFA Executive Committee is UEFA’s supreme executive body comprising 20 members including the UEFA President.

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