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Wales confirmed as one of the joint hosts of Euro 2028

10 Oct 2023 5 minute read
Wales delegate Gareth Bale and UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin hold a UEFA Euro 2028 pennant ahead of the Euro 2028 and Euro 2032 hosts announcement ceremony at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Picture date: Tuesday October 10, 2023. Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Wales is to host the opening ceremony and first match of Euro 2028 after the UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 was formally approved by UEFA.

According to the BBC, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium is set to host the opening game of the tournament, and the FAW hopes to host five more games in the Welsh capital, including a quarter-final.

Ten stadia across the five nations will host the matches in five years’ time, with analysts projecting a three billion euro (£2.6bn) boost to the host nation economies on the back of the tournament.

The bid was unopposed after Turkey withdrew to focus on a joint bid for the 2032 finals alongside Italy, and it was given the official seal of approval by UEFA’s executive committee on Tuesday morning.

Wembley is set to host the final – and potentially both semi-finals – with the other English venues included in April’s final bid submission being the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, Villa Park, St James’ Park and Everton’s new ground at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Principality Stadium image by Sarah Morgan Jones

It’s reported that Cardiff’s Principality Stadium will host the opening ceremony and first game of the championships, Hampden Park in Glasgow, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and a redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast will also host matches.

All five nations are expected to go through qualification for the tournament, with UEFA understood to be reserving two host nation places for any of the teams which do not make it on merit.

The UK-Ireland bid would have been the overwhelming favourite to host Euro 2028 even if Turkey had remained in the race. Senior UEFA sources have repeatedly stressed the importance of hosting another European Championship in a major market – following on from Euro 2024 in Germany – as essential to boosting UEFA’s finances in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There will still be issues for the bid team to resolve over the next five years however – with agreement still to be reached on who will fund the redevelopment of Casement Park.

Plans for a 34,000 stadium have been delayed by legal challenges and are further complicated by the lack of a functioning Executive at Stormont.

Costs have also risen from an original estimate of £77.5million to more than £100m. The GAA is part-funding the project but has not reached an agreement with Stormont over where the remainder will come from.

Tuesday’s decision means England will be involved in hosting a Euros for a third time. They hosted alone in Euro 96 and were one of 11 countries involved in staging the continent-wide Euro 2020.

The UK and Ireland associations first announced they were focusing on a bid for Euro 2028 in February last year.

It had been expected that they would bid for the centenary World Cup in 2030 but Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham admitted at the time there were “many areas of uncertainty” with doing so, leading to the switch in focus.

Wales delegate Gareth Bale stands next to the European Championship trophy during the Euro 2028 and Euro 2032 hosts announcement ceremony at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Mike Egerton/PA Wire

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Wales has built a strong global reputation for successfully hosting major sporting events, while reaching the finals of three major men’s football tournaments since 2016.

“Football is at the heart of our sporting ambitions – whether that’s hosting the Champions League Final in 2017 or proudly sending Wales to its first FIFA World Cup finals for more than 60 years. We’re also providing unprecedented support for the women’s game and investing in grassroots and youth football across Wales.

“Today’s news is the next exciting opportunity for us to showcase what Wales has to offer. We have a strong track record of working in partnership with key partners, including Cardiff Council and the stadium, to host the events, which fans from all over Wales can enjoy.

“Securing EURO 2028 is another milestone for Welsh sport and I’m confident the UK and Ireland will host the best UEFA EURO ever.”

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said: “It is wonderful news that the UK and Ireland will host Euro 2028. It means that matches will be held in our national stadium and Cardiff and Wales will benefit from the spotlight and visitor numbers that come with hosting a truly major event.

“Wales’s brilliant supporters travelled in their thousands to Qatar for the World Cup last year, around Europe for the 2021 Euros and to France for the 2016 Euros where the team had so much success. It is fantastic that matches in the 2028 tournament will now be held at home in Wales and I am proud that the UK Government supported the winning bid.”

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7 months ago

Why is it the ‘UK and Ireland’ bid where it is actually five football associations in the bid not two, the UK being a mere political union irrelavant to football that might not make it to 2028 anyway.

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