Theresa May says joint UK and Ireland bid for 2030 World Cup will be backed by the government

29 Sep

A joint UK and Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup would get Government backing, Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed.

She hinted she would offer Government support if the Football Association proceeds with an official bid for the tournament.

England exceeded all expectations at the 2018 tournament

The FAs of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland are currently undertaking feasibility work and considering putting forward a proposal.

Mrs May, speaking on eve of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, said: “Following the excitement of this summer’s World Cup, the English FA are working together with the FAs of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland to explore whether there could be a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

“The decision on whether to bid is, of course, for the football associations to make. But if they decide to go forward, they can count on this government’s full support.”

The news comes as Education Secretary Damian Hinds and Sports Minister Tracey Crouch announce they will lead a new cross-government action plan to improve competitive school sports.

Hampden Park in Glasgow is a potential venue for the tournament

They will convene key organisations in the sports world – including the Premier League, the FA and the RFU – to agree a new plan on how to get more kids playing competitive sport.

Former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand welcomed the Government’s backing for a World Cup bid, saying: “It’s a brilliant time to be a fan of the Home Nations teams.

“Michael O’Neill and Northern Ireland continue to surpass all expectations. Alex McLeish is building an exciting young Scottish side.

“Wales are going from strength-to-strength under my old mate Giggsy (Ryan Giggs).

Wales performed excellently at Euro 2016, reaching the semi-finals

“And who can forget Gareth Southgate and England’s unbelievable performance this summer in Russia?

“I made my Premier League debut in 1996, the last time there was a major football tournament on these shores, and the excitement across the country was something else. So I really welcome the support the Government is offering.”

London and Glasgow will host 11 games in the European Championships in 2020 with Wembley hosting the semi-finals and the final.

In the last six years the UK has successfully hosted the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart and the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Northern Ireland reached their first tournament in 30 years when they took part in Euro 2016

Any bid for football’s biggest global tournament would face opposition from the joint campaign of Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay which could be buoyed by the fact 2030 marks 100 years since the first World Cup, held in Uruguay in 1930.

It is also possible there will be an African bid, especially in light of Morocco’s defeat to the USA for the 2026 tournament.

Labour also welcomed the announcement, with shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary Tom Watson pointing out it had also backed the plan in July.

The deputy party leader added: “I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has followed Labour’s lead and is willing to back a bid.

“This summer’s World Cup and the performance of England inspired the nation.

“In 2030, it’s time for football to come home.”