UK and Irish FAs meet to select stadia that could feature in 2030 Fifa World Cup bid
Representatives of the four football associations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – plus the Republic of Ireland were meeting in Rome today to draw up a shortlist of potential stadia that might feature in a combined bid to host the Fifa World Cup in 2030.
The proposed bid follows failed bids by England alone to host the World Cups of 2006 and 2018.
The FAs are expected to agree on a minimum capacity of 40,000 for the 12 stadia they are set to select, albeit Belfast’s Windsor Park holds just 18,000. One possibility is that a new stadium could be built in Belfast in time for the tournament.
The associations are also expected to choose no more than three stadia in London.
A final decision on whether to proceed with a bid will not be made before spring next year, “at the earliest,” one source told the Daily Mail, while the bid would be unwilling to compete directly with another from Europe.
Earlier this week, Theresa May, the UK’s prime minister, gave her support to the joint bid, against a background of continuing wrangling over Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Relations between the UK and Ireland have been strained by uncertainty over the status of the land border between the two countries after Brexit.
However, on a visit to Belfast, May claimed that people in both the UK and Ireland “yearned” for a “close and trusting” relationship.
Among a series of examples of how the bilateral relationship between the two countries could be maintained after Brexit, May said that “both the UK and the Irish governments have already made clear that we would support the tantalising possibility of a joint UK and Ireland World Cup bid for 2030, should our respective football associations choose to pursue this.”
The race for the 2030 World Cup is shaping up to be a competitive one, with the UK and Ireland undertaking a feasibility study over their joint bid, Spain and Portugal considering a joint bid that could also include Morocco, a proposed four-way offer from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia, a three-way one from Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay being planned, and Chinese interest also mooted.
The next World Cup is in Qatar in 2022, with USA, Canada and Mexico to host the first tournament to be staged in three countries in 2026.