FILE PHOTO: Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson gives a speech at the JCB Headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire, Britain, January 18, 2019. (Reuters)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it is the "right time" for the United Kingdom and Ireland to launch a bid to host the 2030 soccer World Cup, while he added the country would also be willing to host extra Euro 2020 matches this year if required.
“We are very, very keen to bring football home in 2030. I do think it’s the right place,” Johnson said in an interview with The Sun. “It’s the home of football, it’s the right time. It will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country.”
The newspaper reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set aside 2.8 million pounds ($3.90 million) in his Budget on Tuesday to promote a bid for FIFA's World Cup tournament along with 25 million pounds of fresh funding for the grassroots game.
“We want to see a bonanza of football in the years ahead," Johnson added.
England's FA joined its counterparts in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland in welcoming the government's financial pledge to kick-start a potential 2030 World Cup bid.
"We will continue to undertake feasibility work to assess the viability of a bid before FIFA formally open the process in 2022. Staging a FIFA World Cup would provide an incredible opportunity to deliver tangible benefits for our nations.
"If a decision is made to bid for the event, we look forward to presenting our hosting proposals to FIFA and the wider global football community," the FAs said in a joint statement https://www.thefa.com/news/2021/mar/01/joint-statement-from-uk-and-ireland-football-associations-20210301.
The World Cup, which takes place every four years, has only been held on British shores once before, when England triumphed on home soil in 1966.
Johnson also left the door open to the UK hosting additional Euro 2020 games, after the government last week unveiled plans to end all restrictions on social contact in England by June 21.
"We are hosting the Euros. We are hosting the semis and the final,” he said. “If they want any other matches that they want hosted, we’re certainly on for that but at the moment that’s where we are with UEFA.”
The Euros were postponed by a year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and are now set to take place across 12 different host cities from June 11-July 11.
Those cities include Glasgow, which will host three group games and a last-16 tie, and London, where three group games, one last-16 match plus the semi-finals and final will be staged at Wembley Stadium in London.
UEFA medical advisor Daniel Koch told Reuters last week that European soccer's governing body will make a decision in early April on the suitability of venues and planned capacities, and Johnson said the UK is ready to take on more fixtures if asked.
The other host cities are Dublin, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Munich, Rome, St Petersburg, Bucharest, Budapest and Baku.
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