By Andrew Warshaw
January 7 – A leading English parliamentarian has called on the UK and Republic of Ireland to abandon their interest in jointly staging the 2030 World Cup and instead focus on hosting the Euros two years earlier in 2028.
A feasibility study into all aspects of hosting the 2030 World Cup is due to completed within the next couple of months but Julian Knight, who chairs the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, suggests the idea is total waste of time.
When it bid for the 2018 World Cup, the English FA suffered the humiliation of receiving only two votes. Any similar debacle would be even more embarrassing even though these days FIFA gives a vote to all its 211 members.
“Everyone knows that the furore over a World Cup bid is a giant, expensive vanity project,” Knight told Britain’s Press Association.
His remarks play into the narrative that 2030 would more than likely go to South America in what would be the tournament’s centenary, the first World Cup having been played in Uruguay.
Additionally, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made it clear on numerous occasions that he would favour only one 2030 bid from Europe and there is a growing realisation that Spain and Portugal, who are also likely to put in a joint bid, may be pulling away in that respect.
The appointment of the 2028 Euro hosts takes place in September next year and behind the scenes, there are apparently suggestions that might be a far more realistic target for the UK and Ireland, fuelled by speculation UEFA could expand the Euros to 32 teams and might therefore be sympathetic to the four British home nations plus the Republic of Ireland staging the competition due to unrivalled facilities.
Even 2028 would pose problems, however. Firstly England staged a large chunk of the belated Euro 2020, including the semis and final, and it is rare for countries to come back as repeat hosts within such short period of time.
Plus, there is recent history to consider. England were given a one-match stadium ban following the disgraceful scenes at last summer’s Euro final at Wembley that many in high places have still not forgotten.
“It’s sad as we are ideally suited to hosting a tournament, but we have huge reputation problems in the international game,” charged Knight.
“So it’s best to aim our sights at something achievable, drop the ‘we are the home of football’ malarkey, reform our domestic game and focus on winning and delivering a really great Euros.”
The spanner in the works could be FIFA’s biennial World Cup proposal that will still not go away.
If it happens, it may well start in 2028 and that, of course, would disrupt any plans to stage the Euros the same year.
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