The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland will host the 2028 European Football Championship, while Italy and Turkey will stage the 2032 edition of the tournament, UEFA has announced.
By accepting a joint Italy-Turkey bid for Euro 2032 last week, and with Turkey withdrawing from the race for Euro 2028, the hosts for both tournaments had all but already been determined by European football’s governing body.
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Turkey’s withdrawal from the 2028 race left England, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as the sole joint bidders for that tournament.
Both sets of bids, however, still needed final approval from UEFA’s executive committee that convened on Tuesday.
Turkey, which hosted this year’s Champions League final in Istanbul in June, has never been awarded a major international football competition. It will finally 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 greater stability over the organisation if Italy and Turkey each have to provide just five stadiums, despite its own bid rules stating that only neighbouring member federations can propose co-hosting.
Rome and Istanbul are separated by about 1,400km (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.
UEFA keen on money-spinners
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, Northern Ireland, 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 ($2.12bn). UEFA aims to rebuild its cash reserves above 500 million euros ($528m) after being depleted during the pandemic.
The men’s European Championship funds much of UEFA’s organisational costs and pays for development funds to 55 member federations.
Russian teams won’t play in U-17 Euros
Meanwhile, UEFA said on Tuesday that Russia will not be allowed to play in Under-17 European Championship qualifying games this month.
UEFA had explored inserting Russia into its men’s and women’s youth competitions after two weeks ago surprisingly easing its policy that all the country’s national and club teams be excluded from international competitions because of the invasion of Ukraine.
The policy provoked a split in UEFA’s executive committee and at least 12 of the 55 European member federations said their teams would continue to refuse to play games against Russia.
After assessing how Russian youth teams could be reintegrated, UEFA said after another executive committee meeting on Tuesday that “the agenda point was withdrawn as no technical solution to allow Russian teams to play could be found”.