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UK-Ireland joint 2030 World Cup feasibility studies ‘positive’, bid likely to go ahead

Antoine Griezmann of France holds the World Cup trophy aloft after 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The English Football Association, which has been working on feasibility studies for a potential joint United Kingdom-Ireland bid to host the 2030 Fifa World Cup, said that a bid would be “very credible” at a meeting before the Euro 2020 draw on Saturday.

Noel Mooney, the general manager of the Football Association of Ireland was quoted by the Times as saying: “The feasibility study is positive and there’s a sense the right thing to do is go forward.”

“This bid is out on the front foot and very well led by the English FA, who gave a very strong presentation. It’s a chance to get a really credible bid and hopefully win it. I’d be very surprised if there’s not a very credible bid from Great Britain and Ireland.”

A likely launch of the bid will take place in 2022, if collective government support is confirmed. The combined bid will see matches played across Britain, Cardiff, Glasgow and Dublin, with the showpiece final of the tournament expected to be played at Wembley Stadium in London.

However, one possible challenge to a British and Irish bid would be potential changes in Fifa’s rotation policy that that prevents the same confederation hosting two out of any three World Cup finals tournaments. 

With the 2022 edition set to take place in Qatar, the current rules would not allow China, or any other Asian Football Confederation country, to bid to host a World Cup until 2034. 

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said after the last Fifa Council meeting in Shanghai in October: “We did not discuss that (changes to the rotation policy)…We just discussed the timeline (for the 2030 World Cup),” said Infantino. “As Fifa president…the more bidders we have for the World Cup, the happier I am.”

He said that the hosts for the 2030 World Cup will be chosen in 2024.

Infantino’s encouraging words toward a Chinese bid lends credence to the widely-held view that Fifa is determined to hold a tournament in the world’s most populous nation, as it looks to take full commercial advantage of the rapidly-expanding middle class in the country and its growing interest in football. 

The race to stage the 2030 World Cup is set to begin in earnest in the next 12 months, with a final decision likely to be taken at the 2024 Fifa Congress.

The tournament will be the 100th anniversary edition, and a multi-nation South American bid led by Uruguay, the host of the first-ever World Cup, has been a long-standing favourite to win the hosting rights. 

A Balkan bid, comprising Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia, and an inter-continental proposal from Morocco, Portugal and Spain, are among the other rivals.