Ukraine links World Cup host bid to beating horrors of war

AP , Wednesday 5 Oct 2022

Hosting World Cup matches in 2030 would be ``the dream of people who survived the horrors of war,'' Ukrainian soccer federation president Andriy Pavelko said Wednesday after his country launched a joint bid with Spain and Portugal.

Portuguese Soccer Federation President Fernando Gomes, left, President of the Spanish Royal Federation of Soccer (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, center, Ukrainian Football Federation President Andriy Pavelko, right, speak during a press conference about the announcing that Ukraine is joining Spain and Portugal in their joint bid to host the World Cup in 2030, at the UEFA Headquarters, in Nyon, Switzerland, Wednesday, October 5, 2022. AP

The leaders of the three soccer federations joined together at UEFA headquarters to present a campaign they hope will connect people beyond the world of sports.

``This is the dream of millions of Ukrainian fans,'' Pavelko said at a news conference, ``the dream of people who survived the horrors of war or are still in the occupied territories and over whom the Ukrainian flag will surely fly soon.``

Pavelko said the project is backed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The expected Spain-Portugal bid, which has been in the works for more than three years, previously was made UEFA's preferred candidate. FIFA will vote on the host in 2024.

``Now it's not the Iberian bid, it's the European bid,'' Spain soccer federation president Luis Rubiales said at the launch. ``Together we represent the power of transformation football has in society.''

No details were given about how many games at the 48-team World Cup would be staged in Ukraine or in which cities. The Olympic Stadium in Kyiv hosted the finals of the 2012 European Championship and the 2018 Champions League.

The European bid is expected to face a South American candidacy with co-hosts Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Saudi Arabia, which has built close ties to FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, has been preparing a multi-continent bid potentially including Egypt and Greece. It is unclear how Greece would be approved by UEFA to be part of that.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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