England’s chances of hosting the World Cup in 2030 were being talked up significantly on the day the 2026 hosts were elected.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, England’s FIFA Council representative David Gill and other council colleagues were all enthusiastic about an England bid which could also involve some of the other home nations.
There is now a strong impetus building for the World Cup to return to Europe — and, increasingly, England for the first time in 64 years — for its global showcase after the ‘United’ bid of US/Canada/Mexico won the right to stage the tournament in eight years.
David Gill (R) has talked up the chance of an England or UK World Cup bid for 2030 tournament
There is also optimism among FIFA delegates about a level playing field in future World Cup bids after a transparent process — with all of congress voting on the decision for the first time — saw the ‘United’ bid beat Morocco by 134 votes to 65.
Gill said: ‘It does give us great confidence that the voting procedures now in place are appropriate and relevant.’
And Gill added about a World Cup in England, shared possibly with Scotland and Wales: ‘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.’
Ceferin added: ‘It’s definitely Europe’s turn in 2030 and it’s always a bit stronger with more countries. But at the same time England can host on their own or with the rest of the UK.’
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin voiced his support of a bid for 2030 from Europe
The other challenge is coming from a combined South American proposal from Uruguay, who staged the first World Cup in 1930, Argentina and Paraguay. They have effectively set up a bidding head- quarters in Moscow.
But after the financial and organisational difficulties of 2014 in Brazil, there is opposition on the FIFA Council to returning so soon to South America. Football’s top brass will not allow sentiment around the World Cup returning to Uruguay on its 100th anniversary to be more important than economic sense.
The FA are to mount a 12-month project looking into the feasibility of a World Cup bid conducted by a strengthened international department.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin credits FA chairman Greg Clarke’s travels around the globe for helping to rid the FA of their ‘arrogant’ reputation that hurt the World Cup bids for 2006 and 2018.
Ceferin said: ‘Greg Clarke has changed that image very much. He’s travelling, he’s showing a different face and I think he’s very popular in Europe and also David Gill. The English FA is doing well.’
Ceferin has praised FA Chairman Greg Clarke (R) for having changed the image of FA globally
David Gill, England’s representative on the FIFA council, was the first councillor after FIFA president Gianni Infantino to shake hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin after his speech to the Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.
Gill’s allocated seat position on the extreme right of the FIFA front row, all of whom Putin greeted in turn, meant he had no choice.
However in contrast FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn remained sitting down when Putin received a standing ovation from the Congress floor.
Gill said: ‘I didn’t feel ambushed. It was the polite thing to do. He’s president of the country and you show courtesy.’
David Gill (R) shakes Vladimir Putin’s hand at World Cup in Russia amid talks of UK 2030 bid
One important loophole for England to close ahead of a World Cup bid is the regulation that stopped three FIFA territories Guam, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands from voting because their delegates had American passports.
Russia voting for the ‘United’ bid was the most surprising vote cast with all the home nations also going for that option.
The Russian decision sparked conspiracy theories at the Congress that FIFA president Gianni Infantino had personally made that vote request to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It only took FIFA President Gianni Infantino 10 seconds of his first speech at Wednesday’s Congress to mention his football ‘legends’ — those who play in his PR fest Pre-Congress football match, whom he subsequently name-checked on another six occasions.
Infantino isn’t shy of praising himself either, saying that ‘FIFA was clinically dead’ when he took charge two years ago but is now ‘alive and well, full of joy and passion with a vision for its future’. That came before he closed Congress by saying he would stand for re-election in Paris next year.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino announces he will stand for re-election next year
RFU councillor Rob Udwin, a former board member, has countered Sports Agenda claims that he epitomises the freeloading rugby blazer.
Udwin insists he no longer stays at Twickenham’s Marriott Hotel for England internationals when he lives in nearby Chiswick.
And he adds he was one of the few councillors to vote for the rejected motion that their partners should pay for tickets and meals for autumn internationals.