UK and Ireland's joint 2030 World Cup bid looks dead in the water

EXCLUSIVE: UK and Ireland’s joint 2030 World Cup bid looks dead in the water as UEFA angle for Spain and Portugal to be Europe’s contender… but Euro 2028 could be offered up as a sweetener instead

  • UEFA are set to encourage the UK and Ireland to focus instead on Euro 2028 
  • Sources say that a Spain-Portugal bid has the only ‘realistic chance’ of winning 
  • There is a belief that the tender has little chance of gaining traction and votes
  • Part of the reason why is likely to be in response to the Euro 2020 final chaos

The United Kingdom’s joint World Cup 2030 bid with the Republic of Ireland is set to be rejected by UEFA.

European football’s governing body will try to encourage the UK and Ireland to focus instead on Euro 2028, which UEFA will support if the home nations agree to give up on the World Cup.

Sources in the Irish government and Uefa have revealed a Spain-Portugal bid on behalf of Europe has the ‘only realistic chance of winning at FIFA’. 

The UK’s joint World Cup 2030 bid with the Republic of Ireland is set to be rejected by UEFA

UEFA would instead fully support both nations to focus on Euro 2028 if they stand down now

The plan to hold Euro 2028 in the UK and Ireland has considerable merit for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

However it is not known what England’s response would be, as the lead nation in the World Cup bidding process and architects of the plan to bring the tournament to these islands 64 years after the FA last hosted it.

It is likely the FA would not see another Euros co-hosted by England as having anything like the prestige of a World Cup, especially given the support it has already received from the likes of Boris Johnson. 

But UEFA hope by giving certainty now to the nations battling for the World Cup nomination that they will prevent a lengthy and expensive process which will waste valuable time and resources. 

Sources say the Spain-Portugal bid on behalf of Europe has ‘the only realistic chance’ to host

It is not known when UEFA or the home countries will confirm the Spain-Portugal plan, with discussions at an early phase.

The UK and Irish bid is undergoing a feasibility study, along with stakeholder partners including both countries’ governments.

In recent days, though, word has reached Ireland’s Department of Sport that ‘the UK and Ireland bid was effectively over before it began’, with Spain and Portugal enjoying popular support at UEFA HQ. 

‘It’s accepted that this isn’t going to happen and the sooner that message is delivered, the better,’ said an insider. 

Currently, the Irish and UK bid is undergoing a feasibility study, but they are poised to lose out

‘I’m not sure it was ever that realistic once Spain and Portugal had declared their intent to host the tournament, and for many reasons not least geography and easy access between the two countries, this one makes more sense.’

UEFA and the British and Irish national associations are not expected to accept the bidding process is over because any decision on hosting proposals must be ratified by UEFA’s Executive Committee and its 55 member federations.

A key reason for UEFA asking the home countries to back down is that many in the governing body do not believe the tender has any chance of gaining enough votes across Europe.

That is partly down to the appalling behaviour at the Euro 2020 final, when thousands of drunken fans broke into Wembley, stealing seats from ticket-paying supporters in awful scenes which were beamed around the world.

 The appalling scenes at the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley left figures in football disgusted

Thousands had flocked to the venue, before drunken supporters then broke in and stole seats

A UEFA insider explained: ‘The Football’s Coming Home image was a terrifying one, and one which has not just sent shockwaves through UEFA, who were livid by what they witnessed, but global football nations.

‘You cannot expect in your wildest dreams to have a country voting for an England-led bid after the world’s second biggest international game descended into chaos.

‘This is the view from people in UEFA and I can assure you that opinion will be even more entrenched at FIFA.’

The Irish FA said on Friday: ‘We remain committed to the ongoing feasibility study in regard to a potential bid for the 2030 World Cup alongside our fellow associations in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.’

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