A joint British and Irish bid to host the 2030 World Cup will move closer following a meeting in Italy on Friday, at which a list of potential venues will be drawn up.
Officials from the five associations, in the Italian capital for this week’s Uefa Congress, were due to hold a breakfast summit which is jokingly being dubbed as ‘The Treaty of Rome’ where they were expected to thrash out plans to stage the tournament.
It is understood that London would be likely to host matches at two, or a maximum of three venues, with a clear desire not to make the event London-centric.
A joint British and Irish bid to host the 2030 World Cup will move closer following a meeting
Fifa’s notoriously demanding technical specifications will also be part of the discussion, along with the fact that grounds such as Old Trafford and Anfield currently do not meet the requirements due to insufficient run off-space and room for photographers.
Tottenham’s yet-to-open new home is also in the same boat, although making the relevant modifications is not expected to be an issue.
Each venue needs to feature a minimum capacity of 40,000 and given Cardiff, Glasgow and Dublin all have stadiums that fit the bill there is a strong desire to build a new venue in Belfast, which does not. There is also a keenness to seek government support for the project in the Northern Irish capital.
No final decision on whether to launch a bid is expected before spring 2020 ‘at the earliest’, sources in Rome disclosed. Any bid would only be likely to go ahead with no competing bids from Europe.
Dublin’s Aviva Stadium is a prime candidate to host elite level tournament football
Wembley would feature heavily, though plans are expected to specifically prioritise London
The scars of England’s fruitless attempt to land the 2018 World Cup appear to have healed and the FA has been encouraged by greater transparency around the 2026 World Cup vote, which was won by a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Prime Minister Theresa May has already said that the government would provide full support for the bid, which she described as ‘tantalising’, while one meeting has already taken place between the five associations.
May has also suggested that a joint UK and Ireland bid would help strengthen relations post-Brexit.
Meanwhile, FA chairman Greg Clarke won his bid to become a Fifa vice-president on Thursday, fighting off a challenge from Northern Irish candidate, IFA president David Martin.
Clarke won 37 votes compared to Martin’s 18 to take the role, which guarantees him $250,000 per year for four years and sees him become one of Uefa’s nine European representatives on the Fifa Council – world football’s main decision-making body.
When asked if he would be taking the hefty salary, the former telecoms executive responded: ‘Absolutely!’
Despite recent redevelopments Liverpool’s Anfield stadium does not meet the current criteria
He added: ‘Do I look shy about it? If I compare what I get paid for two days a week at the FA, pro rata, compared to what I used to earn, I’ll still be earning a lot less. I didn’t do it for the money and today was the first time I had that number. It will go through pay as you earn and I’ll give half of it to the government, which is appropriate.’
Clarke also disclosed that the FA had been in talks with the government over how to tackle racism in football after a number of recent, high-profile events.
‘We need to make sure that people who play the game, people who watch the game, people who referee the game are all safe from abuse and violence and threats,’ he said. ‘And we’re coming up with a cohesive approach between stakeholders and between government on how we can improve it.’
At the conclusion of the congress Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin was grilled over the organisation’s progress investigating claims that Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City further broke Financial Fair Play regulations revealed by hackers Football Leaks.
‘I am not sure that nothing has happened,’ he said. ‘I’m not talking about PSG and Manchester City only but any club that violates any regulations will be sanctioned by independent bodies not by me as Uefa president.’
Meanwhile, FA chairman Greg Clarke won his bid to become a Fifa vice-president
Elsewhere at the congress, the row over Fifa’s controversial plans for a new Club World Cup and global Nations League intensified, after Ceferin pulled no punches in a searing attack on the proposals in front of his Fifa counterpart.
Bosses at Fifa want to introduce more European clubs to a revamped Club World Cup and expand Uefa’s Nations League worldwide.
However, the plans have met with strong opposition in Europe and — with Fifa boss Gianni Infantino sat yards away — re-elected Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin took aim.
In a subtle yet damning speech, the Slovenian called out ‘yes men’ who he claimed ‘lure leaders to their demise’ and suggested that by continuing to oppose the plans, UEFA was saving FIFA from itself.
Ceferin also confirmed that Uefa will launch a streaming platform for fans which represents a significant moment in the sport’s history.
The platform, named Over The Top (OTT) marks a shift from traditional broadcasting channels but will only be available in targeted territories outside Europe and North America.