The UK and Ireland’s chances of hosting Euro 2028 appear to have improved significantly after Uefa confirmed Turkey and Italy have requested to merge their bids for the following tournament.
The PA news agency understands Turkey has not withdrawn its bid to host Euro 2028, so remain a rival to the five-nation bid involving England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Turkey and Italy had been going head to head to host Euro 2032, but are now seeking to bid together.
Uefa said in a statement: ‘Uefa confirms that it has received [on 28th July] a request from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) to merge their individual bids into one joint bid to host Uefa Euro 2032.
‘Uefa will now work with FIGC and TFF to ensure that the documentation to be submitted for their joint bid is compliant with the bidding requirements.’
Uefa is expected to make a decision on whether the joint bid is compliant well in advance of 10th October, when the executive committee will decide who will host Euro 2028 and Euro 2032.
The Italian federation said the decision to bid jointly with Turkey had been reached following a ‘complex and fruitful consultation process’.
In a statement, they highlighted that joint bids for previous tournaments – and for future tournaments such as the UK and Ireland’s bid for Euro 2028 – ‘show that sharing events of this magnitude represents, on the one hand, a route for the direct involvement of a higher number of fans and, on the other, the search for an even more efficient and sustainable design’.
FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said: “We are facing a historic turning point that aims to enhance continental football. Football wants to be an ideal bridge for sharing passions and emotions related to sport.”
The FIGC said that if the joint bid was deemed compliant, a decision on host venues would be postponed.
While Turkey is not completely out of the running for Euro 2028 the switch to a joint bid for the following tournament and Uefa’s joint award process for the two tournaments means that everyone gets to leave happy.
For the UK bid, there had been a sense that it was favourite to land Euro 2028 regardless, but the news of Turkey’s decision will be welcome. London and Glasgow hosted matches during the pan-continental Euro 2020, Dublin was originally slated to host tournament games as well, but complications related to the pandemic saw its matches switched to other venues. Wembley was the venue for the Euro 2020 final and England, of course, hosted the tournament in 1996, but it has been starved of major men’s soccer tournaments since.
Organisers for the UK bid will need to show they have learned from the security debacle that marred England’s penalty shootout defeat to Italy in 2021 when large numbers of fans managed to gain entry without tickets. Given the issues seen at the last two Champions League finals, Uefa clearly has work to do in terms of its role in planning major events too.