Football might be coming home in 2028. With no other bid in sight, the UK and Ireland are set to become joint hosts of the European Championship in 2028. For Manchester, it would mean another opportunity to welcome a major international tournament.
The UK and Ireland are running unopposed for one of the next big events in European football. Originally, Italy had its eyes on hosting the competition. But the winner of the latest UEFA Euro against England scrapped their bid to focus on the 2032 tournament.
Russia was another prospective candidate after a successful World Cup organization in 2018. However, the country got ostracised from all international sports in the wake of the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. The current political turmoil even saw Russia get kicked out by both FIFA and UEFA. As a result, the Russian national team can no longer participate in the current World Cup Qualifiers. Local team Spartak Moscow was also ousted from the final stages of the UEFA Europa League.
Turkey had shown interest in hosting the event as well. But after several failed candidacies, the country appears to have thrown in the towel. Hence, no rival bid came in by Wednesday’s deadline this week.
Therefore, all the lights are green for the Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, which had previously scrapped their World Cup 2030 bid to optimise their chances.
Going forward, the UEFA is now set to confirm the official bidders on April 5. The bidding process was initially meant to go on until September 2023. But in the absence of any other competitor, the UEFA may fast-track the proceedings so that the UK and Ireland will be named joint hosts on April 7 this year.
Wembley Stadium is most likely to welcome the UEFA Euro’s final. Other stadiums will be picked by the organizing committee throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland. With a seating capacity of over 70,000 and 55,000 supporters respectively, Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium stand in pole position to host some of the more exciting games of the tournament. And it wouldn’t be a first, as Manchester was host to such major football events as the 1996 European Championship and the 2003 Champions League Final. The city also took part in the organization of the 1966 World Cup, which remains the last time England took the cup back home.
The Three Lions might be just as lucky in 2028. Still, UEFA is yet to decide on which host team will make it to the tournament. Indeed, a maximum of two teams can qualify automatically when multiple countries are chosen as hosts.
However, the five nations seem inclined to believe they could all compete in the finals. According to Sky Sports, that is because UEFA intends to increase the number of participating teams. In 2021, twenty-four nations took part in the competition. This number could reach thirty-two by 2028.
In the meantime, England will attempt to bring the cup home from Qatar in December this year. Wales and Scotland can still dream of joining the Three Lions, too. On Thursday, Robert Page’s team faces Austria in a play-off semi-final. The Welsh men in red might then oppose the winner of the game between Scotland and Ukraine, which has been postponed until June.
With huge names in European football like Italy and Portugal still in the race, the outcome of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers might hold some surprises in store. That’s why the best online betting sites have jumped on the occasion.
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In the lead-up to the 2028 European tournament, football enthusiasts in the UK will also get the opportunity to attend the first edition of a new intercontinental final in London, opposing Italy to Copa America’s champion Argentina.