The Euro 2020 final chaos at Wembley has not “put the kibosh” on a 2030 World Cup bid, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has said.
The Government is supporting a feasibility study to assess the merits of a UK and Ireland bid to stage the centenary finals, with FIFA set to confirm the bidding regulations by the middle of next year.
The Euro final in July was marred by disturbances at Wembley and in other areas of London, with ticketless individuals managing to gain entry to the stadium for the match between England and Italy.
Huddleston blamed those “unruly and despicable” individuals for “undermining” efforts to bring future tournaments to the UK but said: “The conversations we have had and in the interactions we have had so far it’s recognised that it was exceptional, that we can actually hold events very well.
“I don’t believe and we’ve not had any indications that the events at Wembley are going to put the kibosh on our bid, not at all.”
Huddleston was giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee about the value of hosting major sporting and cultural events.
Committee chair Julian Knight said bidding for the 2030 World Cup was “utter nonsense” after campaigns to host the 2006 and 2018 finals both ended in ignominious failure.
Huddleston said he did not share Knight’s pessimism, in part because the bidding process had “fundamentally changed” after the fall of Sepp Blatter’s presidency at FIFA.
“As you know last time (for the 2018 bid) we were made promises behind closed doors and those votes did not transpire,” he said.
“The process has changed. If it hadn’t, I would share your scepticism.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said last month that multiple-nation bids such as the UK-Ireland one could be “the model to follow” in terms of sustainability.
The environmental impact of FIFA’s proposals for a major international tournament every summer from 2024 has been questioned, and Infantino said the answer was to spread the burden.
“Asking one country to take up the burden of organising a World Cup on its own, this time is over,” he said.
“I believe that in these five countries (England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales) there is not a huge need of investment to be done in order to welcome the world for the World Cup.
“Now imagine if the bid… will be awarded the right to organise the World Cup – this fact of having a World Cup for men or women organised by five neighbouring countries could be the model to follow because it ensures sustainability.”
The decision on who should host the 2030 finals is due to be taken at the 2024 FIFA Congress.
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