British Prime Minister Theresa May gave her “full support” on Friday for a potential joint bid by the United Kingdom and Ireland to host the 2030 Fifa World Cup.
May’s decision to seek hosting rights for the Mundial serves up a formidable challenge to the Latin American joint bid of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The biggest sporting event in the world is being expanded from 32 to 48 teams starting with the next edition in Qatar in 2022, and this change means that even countries with ample infrastructure may struggle to cope with the demand of pulling off the massively followed competition on their own.
The 2026 tournament was awarded to a “United” bid the United States presented with Mexico and Canada.
The rights for the 2030 World Cup are still up for grabs – and the five Football Associations within the United Kingdom and Ireland have been plotting a joint bid of their own.
May said her support for 2030 stemmed in part from the adulation England received for their performance in Russia.
“Following the excitement of this summer’s World Cup, the English FA are working together with the FAs of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland to explore whether there could be a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup,” May said.
“The decision on whether to bid is, of course, for the Football Associations to make. But if they decide to go forward, they can count on this government’s full support.”
The cost of staging a World Cup has been climbing – with Russia believed to have spent a record $13.5 billion for the 2018 edition.
While much of that money went into giving some of the 11 host cities their biggest makeovers since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, a joint UK-Ireland bid would not have to invest as much in basic infrastructure such as stadiums or airports and hotels.