World Cup 2030 Q&A: Everything you need to know about Irish/UK bid

Proposed bid would see the World Cup hosted in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales

What’s the story?

Boris Johnson told a British paper on Monday that his government will put up around €3 million in funding to help with the ongoing assessment of whether a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup should be made by the English, Scottish, Welsh and two Irish football associations.

Informal talks about the bid have been ongoing for a couple of years and it does seem that a bid will be pursued but none has formally been launched so far.

What would be involved?

With the tournament due to be expanded to 48 teams from 2026, the number of games at World Cups will increase to 80 and for the event to be staged that year in North America, 16 stadiums will be used as match venues, 10 in the United States, three each in Mexico and Canada so it will be a bigger event than previously seen in Europe when France, Germany and Russia hosted 32 team events.

But England still has enough grounds to host the tournament by themselves, why don’t they do that?

On the stadium front, at least, England would be well placed but they have tried twice in recent years (for 2006 and 2018) to host the tournament for the first time since they won it back in 1966 and things have ended badly on each occasion with a lot of money spent but little left to show for it bar embarrassment and some nasty political fallout. Getting the Scots, Welsh and Irish on board broadens the political appeal.


Hosting Euro2020 across the continent hasn’t exactly looked like a stroke of genius lately, are Fifa up for multiple hosts?

Yes. Politically, it works well for Fifa who had previously banned joint bids in the wake of the 2002 World Cup but have since changed their minds. The tournament’s expansion means that only countries with large existing football infrastructures or a willingness to spend vast sums on new facilities could mount solo bids. After all of the scandal associated with Qatar’s successful bid for 2022, Fifa is keen not to go down that road again anytime soon but joint bids enable countries that would otherwise be excluded to get in on the process.

So, who would a joint British/Irish bid likely to be up against?

As things stand, there are reported to be four confirmed bids in the pipeline, two in Europe, one in South America and one in Africa. Several others have been floated and one or two more might well be confirmed.

Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia have, in any case, said that they will mount a campaign as have Spain and Portugal. Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin had previously said that he wanted all of Uefa's members to be able to throw their weight behind one European candidacy. That seems unlikely now but could possibly still happen if there were to be a lot of horse trading as both of those other groupings had also expressed an interest in hosting a European Championships but even then there is likely to be Uruguay/Argentina/Paraguay/Chile to contend with.

Morocco, which bid for 2026 but didn't fare to well because of the amount of work that would be required, has said it will go again, possibly with Tunisia and Algeria. A North African World Cup would have some political appeal but the finances of the situation would appear to put the European and South American groupings in a much stronger position.

How much would a bid cost?

Well, the English spent around €23 million on trying to stage 2018 and ended up with two of the 22 votes and finished last in a field of four. Australia blew half as much again on their effort at winning 2022 and got just one but all of these votes involved huge corruption and Fifa has sought to eliminate this in the wake of the embarrassment that was the 2022 process.

Still, there will be substantial investment involved, putting together plans for the football, transport and accommodation aspects of the event and then making a case to the many associations who will vote in the final decision making process.

What would the rewards be?

Well, the North American bid has projected that they can double overall tournament revenues from Russia where Fifa is reported to have grossed around €5 billion. They have also suggested that the three host associations could earn around €50 million each for their efforts. Fifa itself has suggested that the revenue figures are probably on the optimistic side and it is far from clear how much the five associations in this case could expect to get or how that money would be shared out.

For the participating countries, there is the tourism revenue generated by visiting fans - although the costs/benefits are always hotly disputed - and a fair bit of prestige.

What happens next?

Though modest enough, the money from the British government effectively confirms a level of support and commitment from the British government which was an absolute requirement. It was welcomed by all of the associations and the response from the Government here, expressed through a spokesperson in Micheál Martin's department and in the media by Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers indicates that work is ongoing on putting together the detail.

With voting due to take place at Fifa's 2024 Congress, formal campaign launches are expected towards the end of 2022 and so that is roughly the deadline that the associations and governments are working to although it would be dangerous to allow candidates who have already declared to build up any significant momentum.

Could the British/Irish bid win?

Absolutely. It would have a lot going for it with the English providing the back bone of what would be a very strong infrastructure offering but the other countries adding to their political weight and bringing distinctive elements of their own. New FAI CEO Jonathan Hill certainly sounded confident last Friday when he said the bid was, in his view, credible and could well prove successful.

That said, some of the prospective rivals have a fair bit to be said for them too and there is an awful lot more to coming out on top of this process than just having the potential to put on a good show. Just ask the English who are not looking to share the spoils around for nothing.