LONDON: Senior football officials in Wales and Scotland have confirmed that discussions are firmly under way to devise a United Kingdom bid to host the finals of the 2030 World Cup – the centenary tournament.
Prime Minister Theresa May is reported also to have has expressed informal support while European federation UEFA has indicated support if a British bid were the strongest the federation could find.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has reversed the world federation’s opposition to joint bids since the decision to expand the finals to 48 teams from 2026.
Jonathan Ford, the FA of Wales chief executive, told BBC Wales: “This is something that has come up in conversation and it is something we are looking into. It’s no more than that and there’s going to be no news until at least midway through 2019.
“But there is going to be a little bit of a feasibility study to see whether or not a UK-wide bid, a home nations bid or similar, would be a powerful, strong bid.
“Personally, I think it would be and I think, should we go forward at that stage – which, as I say, won’t be determined until well into 2019 – I think we’d have a very strong and compelling bid.
“There’s a long way to go on it, but it could be 2030, FIFA World Cup in the home nations – what a fantastic opportunity that would be.
“The reality is, for countries like Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, it’s always going to be a case of having to do it in partnership with another and the logical partner for us would be England.”
Scotland and Republic of Ireland made a joint bid to host Euro 2008 but lost out to Austria and Switzerland. England made a bid to stage the 2018 World Cup finals but lost out to Russia. The 2022 tournament is due to be held in Qatar while the 2026 World Cup will be hosted jointly by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Competition to a British bid to host the 2030 tournament will come from South America, with Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay having announced plans to bid. There may also be a North African bid led by Morocco supported by Portugal and Spain.