Euro 2028: Uefa confirms UK and Republic of Ireland as tournament hosts

10 October 2023 0 By Total Football News
Gareth Bale with Alexander Ceferin on stage for Euros presentationFormer Wales captain Gareth Bale was present at the announcement in Nyon along with representatives from each of the host nations

The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland will host the 2028 European Championship, Uefa has confirmed.

The joint bid ran unopposed after Turkey withdrew to focus on a bid with Italy for Euro 2032, which was also confirmed at a meeting in Switzerland.

The UK and Ireland focused on Euro 2028, with Uefa’s approval, after they ended a plan to be Europe’s preferred candidate for the 2030 World Cup.

London’s Wembley Stadium and Glasgow’s Hampden Park hosted games at Euro 2020.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said he would “like the national stadium of Wales to host the opening match” but that it is “up to Uefa” to decide.

“To bring the tournament to Wales is a special day for us,” he said. “We’re excited. We’ve put forward a schedule of matches, we think Cardiff is perfect for the opener and we look forward to it.

“We hope by hosting, and having these big matches in Cardiff, we can bring Wales to the world in a way it hasn’t been before.”

Former Wales captain Gareth Bale, who attended the presentation in Nyon, added: “For me as a Welshman, I would love for Cardiff to host the opening match. We have the stadium and infrastructure for it.”

The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales have never hosted a major football tournament.

Matches at Euro 2028 are set to be held at 10 different grounds, including Wembley, Hampden Park, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. Belfast’s Casement Park and Everton’s Bramley-Moore Dock stadium, the former unbuilt while the latter is still under construction, were also included in the bid.

England were one of the 11 countries to host Euro 2020 along with Scotland, as well as being sole hosts of the 1966 World Cup and Euro ’96. England also hosted the record-breaking Women’s European Championship in 2022.

While Italy had only bid for the 2032 tournament, Turkey had initially bid to host both Euro 2028 and 2032.

Turkey withdrew from the running to host Euro 2028 last week after their bid with Italy for 2032 was approved by European football’s governing body.

They have 20 potential host stadiums, of which 10 will be chosen, five per country, by October 2026.

Turkey hosted June’s Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan at Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium, but a major international tournament has never been held in the country.

European champions Italy hosted the Euros in 1968 and 1980, while Rome’s Stadio Olimpico was also used as a venue at Euro 2020.

Germany will host Euro 2024 with the most recent championship being played in 2021 instead of 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gareth Bale says UK and Republic of Ireland hosting Euro 2028 is a ‘proud moment’

Staging a major tournament usually means the hosts qualify automatically.

But, when it comes to co-hosting, qualification for all five host nations is not guaranteed.

In its bid guidelines, Uefa says: “In case of more than two joint-host associations, the automatic qualification of all the host teams cannot be guaranteed and shall be subject to a decision to be made in conjunction with decisions concerning the qualifying competition.”

It is unlikely Uefa will offer more than two places, so three could miss out.

There has been some talk of all five nations trying to qualify with two ‘backstop’ qualification spots available for those who miss out, with either the highest-ranking nations who failed to qualify going through, or the two sides that come closest to qualifying.

However, it has been said that there are some reservations within Uefa about offering a ‘backdoor’ entry to nations who have failed to qualify, as well as its potential impact on the normal qualifying process.

BBC Sport understands the Football Association wants England to reach Euro 2028 via the formal qualifying process, rather than be handed an automatic slot by Uefa.

This is because it believes it would provide the team with better preparation for the tournament than a series of friendlies.

“I think every team would want to qualify on merit, want to go in playing well,” said Bale.

“Coming through in a campaign, going into the tournament you’ve got confidence behind you. Those two back-up spots are there just in case. It’s important all teams try and qualify and do the best they can and hopefully they all do it automatically anyway.”