By Andrew Warshaw
March 2 – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is backing a potential joint bid from the four UK federations plus the Republic of Ireland to host the 2030 World Cup even though South America are early favourites to land the tournament.
The formal bidding process will be launched next year and in an interview with The Sun newspaper, Johnson said it was time the World Cup returned to the country for the first time since 1966.
“We are very, very keen to bring football home in 2030. I do think it’s the right place,” he said. “It’s the home of football, it’s the right time. It will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country.”
The English Football Association revealed the government had pledged £2.8 million towards a potential bid.
A joint statement released by the FA and the football associations of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland read: “The football associations and Government partners of the UK and Ireland are delighted that the UK Government has committed to support a prospective five-association bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
“We will continue to undertake feasibility work to assess the viability of a bid before FIFA formally open the process in 2022.
“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.”
Despite Johnson’s trademark rhetoric, the UK will have its work cut out trying to win any vote.
At present, as much for emotional reasons as practical, South America look like gaining considerable support to land what would be the centenary of World Cup that was first staged in Uruguay in 1930. Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay want to stage what would be the competition’s first ever four-nation coalition.
The host for the 2030 event is likely to be selected in 2024. England’s last World Cup bid, for 2018, was a humiliation with only two votes, one of those coming from the English FA’s own representative on FIFA’s now-defunct executive committee.
Although under the current rotation system the tournament should come back to Europe in 2030, China are the elephant in the room though they seem more likely to go for 2034.
A joint UK-Irish bid could also come up against a counter-challenge from within Europe. Last October, Spain and Portugal, who also missed out on 2018, confirmed their joint bid to host in 2030 and much could depend on UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin persuading the Iberian partnership to drop their campaign in order for Britain and Ireland to have a clear run as Europe’s sole bidder.
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