DUBLIN is set for a major cash boom after it was confirmed on Tuesday that Ireland will host a major international football tournament for the first time after UEFA officially approved the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales as Euro 2028 co-hosts.
Turkey’s withdrawal last week – they will host the 2032 European Football Championship with Italy instead – left the five-nation bid unopposed but the UK-Irish proposal was already the overwhelming favourite to be selected and that was confirmed at a ceremony in Nyon, Switzerland today.
The Aviva Stadium had been due to host four games at Euro 2020, the tournament being then delayed by a year due to Covid. UEFA ultimately moved the three group games scheduled for Dublin to St Petersburg, and one last-16 game to Wembley after the Football Association of Ireland and the Government were unable to provide guarantees of at least 25% capacity spectator attendance.
FAI President Gerry McAnaney said: “This is a flagship day for our game in Ireland. I want to thank our partners in the Government of Ireland, Dublin City Council and the Aviva Stadium along with our own FAI staff, all of whom have worked so hard to secure this tournament. Together we look forward to welcoming Europe to Ireland in 2028 and the games that will inspire Irish boys and girls as they witness history on their doorstep.”
Ten stadia were included in the UK-Ireland Euro 2028 bid submission in April. Six of the venues are in England, with one each from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
A redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast and the Aviva Stadium in Dublin are the Irish venues.
It’s understood Dublin will stage at least six Euro 2028 games, four in the group stage, one in the last 16, and one quarter-final with the West Belfast venue in line to host at least five fixtures.
Windsor Park, where Northern Ireland play their home games, does not meet the 30,000-capacity threshold UEFA sets for final tournament games.
Casement Park has been unused since 2013 but last year a legal challenge against a decision to grant planning approval for the redevelopment was dismissed and owners Ulster GAA are now hopeful of having games played there in late 2025.
The rising cost of the rebuild is now estimated at between £110m and £160m, up from £77.5m in 2016. The GAA has insisted it cannot afford more than its original £15m contribution but, in the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, the UK government has indicated funding will be available while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also said his government would be willing to contribute financially.
Patrick Nelson, the chief executive of the Irish Football Association, spoke positively when asked for an update today.
“There’s a project plan in place, the planning permission has been granted for Casement, they have a full project plan for it, it’s a GAA project,” he said.
“We’ve been working with our partners at GAA but also with the government (in the UK and Ireland) and we’re assured by the government that the funding will be made available for it. The governments have fully supported the bid right from the beginning.”
The Taoiseach wrote on X: “We’re willing to invest in the Aviva Stadium & Casement Park to ensure our stadia, north & south, are ready to welcome the world. I also want to ensure there are benefits for football clubs all over the country & I look forward to engaging with the FAI on how we can achieve that.”
The eight stadiums in Britain are: Wembley, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, St James’ Park, Villa Park, Everton’s new home at Bramley-Moore Dock, Hampden Park in Glasgow and the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Bid leaders estimate that the 2028 tournament is projected to generate around €3billion of economic benefit for the five host nations.
However, being co-hosts does not guarantee qualification for the five countries.
UEFA has reserved two ‘safety net’ host-nation berths should any of the five not qualify on merit, which would be allocated to the two teams with the best record in qualifying.
Ireland last qualified for the European Championships in 2016, when Martin O’Neill’s side were defeated by hosts France in the last-16.
It emerged on Monday that England had requested to go through qualification. The FA is keen to keep the team competitive on the run-up to the finals, with Germany having struggled in friendly action in the build-up to Euro 2024. There are also concerns over the level of opposition they would be able to secure if they were limited to friendlies.
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