LONDON (AFP): Football chiefs from the UK and Ireland announced on Monday they had decided not to bid to stage the 2030 World Cup and would instead focus on a joint campaign to host Euro 2028.
The football associations of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have concluded that the European Championship represents a better option than the World Cup after a feasibility study, which was backed by UK government money.
“The five associations have decided to focus solely on an official bid to host Euro 2028 and have agreed not to bid for the 2030 World Cup,” they said in a statement.
“Hosting a Euro offers a similar return on investment, with the European tournament carrying a far lower delivery cost and the potential of the benefits being realised sooner.”
English Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said there was “uncertainty” over future World Cups, in light of world governing body FIFA’s proposal to stage the tournament every two years.
He said the decision to focus on Euro 2028 was not based on any communication from European governing body UEFA that it would support a joint Spain-Portugal bid for 2030 over the UK-Ireland option.
Bullingham believes the five-nation Euro bid would be viewed favourably, as UEFA seeks to rebuild its finances following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We believe we can put together an incredibly strong tournament in many ways,” he said.
“And we also know we can deliver a really strong commercial return to UEFA and we feel that puts us in a strong position.”
A UK government statement said: “We remain passionate about bringing a World Cup to the UK and Ireland when the time is right.
“Meanwhile, the UEFA European Championships are one of the biggest global sporting events. Hosting the full tournament would be an exciting opportunity, bringing significant benefits to the whole of the UK and Ireland.”
Russia and Turkey are also reportedly in the running for Euro 2028.
The World Cup bid was previously criticised as an “expensive vanity project” by Julian Knight, the lawmaker who chairs the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, after the failed solo attempts by England to stage the 2006 and 2018 World Cups.
He welcomed the switch in focus on Monday but added: “It’s unacceptable that £2.8 million ($3.8 million) in taxpayer money was wasted on a pipe dream that was clearly doomed from the start.”
“Football in the UK needs to sort out its reputation at home before we can go after the biggest tournament.”