In a decision confirmed by UEFA, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have been chosen as the co-hosts for the 2028 European Championship.
This joint bid faced no competition, as Turkey withdrew to focus on a bid with Italy for the Euro 2032, a decision that was also ratified during the meeting in Switzerland.
The UK and Ireland’s commitment to hosting Euro 2028 received UEFA’s endorsement after they withdrew their candidacy to be Europe’s preferred choice for the 2030 World Cup.
Notably, London’s Wembley Stadium and Glasgow’s Hampden Park were prominent venues during Euro 2020.
Noel Mooney, Chief Executive of the Football Association of Wales, expressed his hope that Wales’ national stadium would host the opening match of the tournament. He acknowledged that the final decision rests with UEFA, stating, “Bringing the tournament to Wales is a significant moment for us. We are eagerly anticipating the opportunity. We have proposed a match schedule, and we believe Cardiff is an ideal location for the tournament opener. We aspire to use this occasion to showcase Wales to the world in a new light.”
Gareth Bale, the former captain of the Welsh national team, also present at the announcement in Nyon, expressed his desire for Cardiff to host the opening match. He emphasized that the stadium and infrastructure are well-suited for such an event.
It is worth noting that the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have never previously hosted a major football tournament.
Euro 2028 is set to feature matches at ten different venues, including Wembley, Hampden Park, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, and Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. The bid also included Belfast’s Casement Park and Everton’s Bramley-Moore Dock stadium, with the former yet to be constructed and the latter currently under development.
England, along with Scotland, played a significant role as one of the 11 countries hosting Euro 2020. England has a rich history of hosting major tournaments, including the 1966 World Cup and Euro ’96. Furthermore, the nation hosted the record-breaking Women’s European Championship in 2022.
While Italy exclusively bid for the 2032 tournament, Turkey initially submitted bids for both Euro 2028 and 2032. However, Turkey withdrew its Euro 2028 bid after UEFA approved its joint bid with Italy for 2032.
In terms of host stadiums, there are 20 potential options, of which 10 will be selected, with each co-host nation having five venues. The final selection is expected to be made by October 2026.
Despite hosting the UEFA Champions League final in June at Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Turkey has never hosted a major international tournament. In contrast, European champions Italy previously hosted the Euros in 1968 and 1980, and Rome’s Stadio Olimpico served as a venue during Euro 2020.
Germany is poised to host Euro 2024, and the most recent championship, initially scheduled for 2020, was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for the automatic qualification of host nations, it’s customary for hosts to secure automatic berths in the tournament. However, when multiple nations co-host, the automatic qualification of all five host teams is not guaranteed. UEFA’s bid guidelines state that the qualification of all host nations will be subject to a decision made in conjunction with the qualifying competition.
UEFA is unlikely to offer more than two automatic qualification spots, which means that three host nations could potentially miss out. Discussions have considered the possibility of all five nations attempting to qualify, with two ‘backstop’ qualification spots available for those who do not succeed in the regular qualification process. These backstop spots could be awarded to either the highest-ranking nations that failed to qualify or the two teams that came closest to qualifying.
However, reservations exist within UEFA regarding the idea of providing a ‘backdoor’ entry to nations that failed to qualify, along with concerns about its impact on the regular qualifying process. The prevailing belief is that teams would benefit more from qualifying based on merit, as it would afford them better preparation for the tournament than a series of friendly matches. Gareth Bale emphasized the significance of merit-based qualification, stating, “I believe every team would prefer to earn their place, enter the tournament in good form, and carry the confidence of a successful qualifying campaign. While those two backup spots are available, they should be seen as a contingency plan. It remains crucial for all teams to aim for automatic qualification.”
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