02 Jul 2022

British PM appears to back Ukraine as Euro 2028 hosts despite Ireland and UK bid

British PM appears to back Ukraine as Euro 2028 hosts despite Ireland and UK bid

British PM appears to back Ukraine as Euro 2028 hosts despite Ireland and UK bid

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to suggest Ukraine should be awarded the right to host Euro 2028 – despite the UK and Ireland being in the running for the same event. 

Johnson was giving his reaction to yesterday's (Wednesday March 23) shock news that Russia had declared an interest in bidding for the 2028 and 2032 continental tournaments, despite the country being banned from international football over their invasion of Ukraine. 

The Prime Minister, who is in Brussels for a Nato summit on the Ukraine invasion, said it was “beyond satire” that Russia should have entered the race, but went on to say that “the best thing possible” would be for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and for Ukraine to be handed the tournament. 

He said: “I think the idea of Russia holding any football tournament or any kind of cultural event right now is beyond satire.

“I can’t believe anybody would seriously consider their suggestion and the best thing possible would be for the entire Russian armed forces to retire forthwith from Ukraine and hand the tournament to them, of course.”

Ireland and the UK first announced their intention to bid for Euro 2028 on February 7 at the end of a feasibility study which had initially been launched with a view to bidding for the 2030 World Cup, and the five associations behind the bid confirmed yesterday that a formal ‘expression of interest’ had been sent to UEFA.

Johnson tweeted in support of that submission yesterday, writing: “The UK and Ireland bid for the UEFA Euro 2028 has this government’s full backing.

“Our world-class stadiums and passionate fans stand ready to host one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Let’s bring football home.”

Clarification of the Prime Minister’s position on the bid is being sought. 

It had appeared that Ireland and the UK's bid would face no opposition before Russia’s shock entry, and a subsequent submission from perennial bidders Turkey ahead of yesterday evening’s UEFA deadline. 

Senior figures within UEFA who were contacted yesterday evening were dismayed by the Russian bid and expressed hope that it would be immediately dismissed. 

The declaration of interest had to be accepted because at this stage the Football Union of Russia (FUR)’s membership of UEFA and FIFA has not been suspended, only the right of their national teams and clubs to compete in UEFA and FIFA competitions.

The federation’s membership of UEFA will be kept under review, UEFA said yesterday. 

The FUR’s president, Alexander Dyukov – a member of UEFA’s ruling executive committee, said yesterday: “Submitting the declaration, we proceed from the fact that Russia is well prepared to host large international competitions, enjoys all the required infrastructure and experience in staging large tournaments at the highest level. The deadline for submitting the declaration is April 12, 2023. 

“This decision does not impose any obligations on us, however we must use every opportunity to communicate with FIFA and UEFA, struggle for every chance to host major tournaments.

“If we do nothing, then we will definitely have nothing. We realise that currently the chances have decreased, and yet, if they do exist, you have to seize them.”

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