Plans for a UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup are “utter nonsense”, sports minister Nigel Huddleston was told as he faced MPs on Thursday.
The government has provided funding towards a feasibility study looking at hosting the World Cup and members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee asked Huddleston about that support for the bid.
FIFA are set to confirm the bidding regulations by the middle of next year but there are fears that the trouble at Wembley at the Euro 2020 final will derail the UK and Ireland bid.
As Huddleston faced MPs, DCMS select committee chair Julian Knight said: “Considering we only managed two votes last time and it ended up going to Russia and Qatar, this is just a nonsense. The World Cup bid is an utter nonsense. We are never going to win it.”
But Huddleston is confident the Euro 2020 trouble will not “put the kibosh” on the bid.
Huddleston said: “I do not believe and we've not had any indications that the events at Wembley are going to put the kibosh on our bid, not at all.
“I do not share your pessimism. I think it is absolutely vital, particular given our history with football, that we put ourselves front and centre on making sure that we are on the world stage of hosting events.
“The system, the process and the transparency has fundamentally changed, and I think that in itself will change the system for the better. And also we are in a good position, we have a fantastic track record over the last 10 years. The incidents we saw at Wembley in the Euros, let’s not pretend for one minute that that will not do us harm.
“Everybody saw those on TV screens around the world. It was not great. But there were some pretty unique circumstances there, in terms of timing as we were coming out of Covid and other matters that I think going forward we can learn lessons there.
“We need to give Uefa and Fifa confidence that those kinds of events would not happen again if we hosted the World Cup, and I am confident that we could.”