UEFA picks UK-Ireland to host Euro 2028, Italy-Turkey to stage Euro 2032

AP , Tuesday 10 Oct 2023

The future of football’s European Championship for the next decade was decided Tuesday — the United Kingdom and Ireland will host in 2028 and an unusual Italy-Turkey co-hosting plan was picked for 2032.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, second right, shows the name of Italy and Turkey elected to host the Euro 2032 football tournament with Gabriele Gravina, President of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), third right, and Mehmet Buyukeksi, President of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), right, during the UEFA EURO 2028 and 2032 hosts announcement ceremony after the UEFA Executive Committee, at UEFA Headquarters, in Nyon, Switzerland, Tuesday, October 10, 2023. Photo: AP


There were no losers when the executive committee of the European football governing body UEFA finally approved the double hosting award that was inevitable after former bid rivals Italy and Turkey united under one flag of convenience in July.

That deal took Turkey out of the Euro 2028 contest where the team of five neighboring UEFA member federations — England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Ireland — was long favored to win.

Turkey finally will get to host a European Championship after several failed previous bids, including by one vote against France for the Euro 2016 edition.

Turkey also was likely to lose in any contested vote for 2032 even amid doubts Italy could finish a massive construction project to build and upgrade the stadiums needed for a 24-team, 51-game tournament.

UEFA gains stability over the organization if Italy and Turkey each has to provide just five stadiums despite its own bid rules stating that only neighboring member federations can propose co-hosting.

Rome and Istanbul are separated by about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) across the Mediterranean Sea and Aegean Sea with flights taking more than two hours.

Co-hosting by five UEFA members in 2028 and two in 2032 follows the radical 13-nation project that was agreed for Euro 2020. It was cut to 11 when the tournament was eventually played during the COVID-19 pandemic one year behind schedule. That final was played at Wembley Stadium in London.

The UEFA picks are not even the most scattered and logistically challenging chosen this month for a major football event.

FIFA decided last week to accept just one candidate for hosting the 2030 World Cup spread among six countries and three continents.

A European-led bid that started with Spain and Portugal, then added Morocco, now includes Argentina, Paraguay and inaugural 1930 tournament host Uruguay in a stunning addition revealed six days ago. Ukraine was included in that project last year but was dropped without a public acknowledgement.

The 2030 bidding deal let FIFA fast-track opening the 2034 bidding contest reserved only for member federations from Asia and Oceania that looks a shoo-in for Saudi Arabia.

Though Italy and Turkey both get direct entry to Euro 2032 as hosts, UEFA will not offer five automatic places for the 2028 hosts. One option is putting all five into traditional qualifying groups and awarding the automatic places to the two best records among the non-qualifiers.

The 2028 bid plan has six stadiums in England, led by Wembley Stadium with the club venues of Aston Villa, Manchester City, Newcastle, Tottenham and the under-construction new home of Everton in the docks area of Liverpool. The national stadiums of Ireland, Scotland and Wales will be used plus a planned new stadium in Belfast at the currently derelict Casement Park.

Euro 2024 in Germany is an increasingly rare example in modern football of a single host nation.

UEFA has targeted the Euros of 2024 and 2028 to be high-profit tournaments with revenues at each edition of at least 2 billion euros ($2.12 billion). UEFA aims to rebuild its cash reserves above 500 million euros ($528 million) after being depleted during the pandemic.

The men’s European Championship funds much of UEFA’s organizational costs and pays for development funds to 55 member federations.

UEFA expects the program, known as Hat Trick, to invest 935 million euros ($990 million) from 2024-28 paying members about double what they get from FIFA funding in each World Cup cycle.

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