England ready to commit to united GB 2030 World Cup bid

Ben Rumsby
The Telegraph

 The prospect of the World Cup ­being staged in England – or even across Great Britain – has taken a giant leap forward after the United States, Canada and Mexico were awarded the 2026 finals.

A landslide victory for the ­so-called “United” bid in a vote at Fifa’s annual congress in Zurich is likely to encourage the Football ­Association to commit to a bid for 2030, which will be the World Cup’s 100th anniversary.

It was the first vote since the now infamous decision in 2010 to hand the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively in a ballot that was the catalyst for sport’s biggest corruption scandal.

The vote for the 2018 ­tournament left England humiliated, despite boasting the best technical bid, and the FA resolved not to go for the World Cup again until it was ­convinced the process would be transparent and fair.

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Wednesday' outcome, in which the vastly superior United bid won by 134 votes to 65, was an emphatic vindication of that process.

The FA has already appointed Robert Sullivan, the director of communications and strategy, to head a beefed-up international ­department, with one of his jobs to work on existing bids – such as that for the 2021 European Women’s Championship – and assess the ­feasibility of launching new ones.

And while a final decision on a World Cup bid could be years away, England would instantly be ­installed as favourites. One senior Fifa source revealed its dream scenario would be bringing the tournament there in 2030 and taking it to China four years later.

The governing body is also ­actively encouraging co-hosting and yesterday’s overwhelming decision demonstrated its member associations support the concept, too.

David Gill, Britain’s Fifa vice-president who attends FA board meetings in an ex-officio capacity, said yesterday he thought the four home associations would look at a joint bid. “Countries enjoy hosting the competitions and it’s a matter of, do you give everyone the chance to be involved with it?” he said.

The prospect of a UK-wide bid was first raised last year by the president of Uefa – and Gill’s fellow Fifa vice-president – Aleksander Ceferin.

Reiterating that there would be only one European candidate for the 2030 World Cup, Ceferin said yesterday: “It’s always a bit of a stronger bid with more countries. If we are talking about England with their infrastructure, they can host on their own or with the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Gill, who was FA vice-chairman until recently and still advises the governing body on international matters, said: “Why wouldn’t you, if you love football, you want to see it on your doorstep?  

“You look at the assets that we’ve got in England, or the UK, in terms of grounds. Some of the best grounds in world football; the best training grounds. So, why not? It would be fantastic.”

North America to host FIFA World Cup 2026 - map
North America to host FIFA World Cup 2026 - map

Gill said Wednesday’s vote “gives great confidence that the procedures in place now are appropriate and relevant”.

One cause for concern for any England or Great Britain bid would be the barring of three associations with close ties to the US from ­Wednesday's vote.

Gill said that would “probably” be cleared up in time for 2030, with another council member stating there was no chance of nations close to the UK being barred next time.England have also suffered ­during previous World Cup bids from the perception that they are arrogant because of the country’s colonial past and the fact it is the home of football.

But FA chairman Greg Clarke, who is touring the world to build relationships with other associations, has transformed that perception.

Ceferin said: “He’s showing a ­different face and I think he’s very popular in Europe, and also David Gill. The English FA, as I call it, is doing well.”

Gill, who also sits on Uefa’s ­executive committee, added: “What you do if you’re on these bodies, you’ve got to work hard, put the effort in, read the papers and contribute. And it’s how you do that, your personality and whatever.

“Greg’s made a lot of efforts to go round and meet countries within Europe. I’m travelling quite a bit.

“It’s an easy word to use: arrogant. Individuals aren’t necessarily arrogant. It’s how it’s perceived overall. So, I wouldn’t be worried about that, personally.”

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