KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Four Balkan nations have agreed to consider bidding to co-host the 2030 World Cup finals though the likelihood is that the real target is the finals tournament of the European Championship in 2028.
The football federations and governments of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia are the interested quartet.
Only one World Cup has ever been staged in eastern Europe, this past summer in Russia. The Euro has been held twice in the region: the four-team finals in the former Yugoslavia in 1976 and the tournament in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.
The prospect was unveiled by Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at a media briefing after a regional summit in Varna.
In fact, the idea had been proposed not by the quartet but by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who had said that the four countries would discuss the possibility of becoming candidates for a major sporting event within 10 years.
Borissov said: “I think it is a proposal worth discussing. Just as Bulgaria and Italy hosted the world volleyball championship (in September), the four countries — Serbia, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria — (can) bid to host the World Cup in 2030.”
Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic said the Balkan quartet will bid to host the European championship in 2028, adding it would give them a chance to improve their stadiums and sports infrastructure. This may well be considered a significant political step within UEFA.
In fact, the likely candidate for the 2030 World Cup likely to win the support of European federation UEFA is a joint bid from the four United Kingdom ‘home’ countries plus the Republic of Ireland. The relevent FAs have already plans to conduct feasibility studies.
A three-way South American bid from Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay is already up and running. Regional confederation CONMEBOL is stressing the appropriate worth of the World Cup returning to Uruguay to mark the centenary of the competition.
Morocco, which has made five unsuccessful bids to host the tournament including 2026, has also said it would try again for 2030. Joint bids with Algeria and Tunisia or with Spain and Portugal have been discussed though an African/European mix appears highly unlikely.
A Bulgarian government spokeswoman confirmed that a joint bid to host the tournament in 2028 has been discussed.