Belfast Telegraph

Irish FA still eyeing World Cup bid as talks gather pace

Windsor Park, with a capacity of just over 18,000, is not big enough to host a World Cup match but can serve as a training facility
Windsor Park, with a capacity of just over 18,000, is not big enough to host a World Cup match but can serve as a training facility

By Graham Luney

The Irish Football Association remain committed to discussing the viability of a 2030 World Cup bid alongside their counterparts from England, Wales, Scotland and Republic of Ireland.

Representatives from the national associations met yesterday after the annual Uefa congress in Rome to continue their talks.

Potential venues that would meet Fifa's requirements were discussed and there is a desire for a new stadium to be built in Northern Ireland. Windsor Park cannot host World Cup games as its capacity is just over 18,000.

Fifa guidelines state that World Cup stadiums must have at least 40,000 capacity for group games, 60,000 for semi-finals and then 80,000 for the opening ceremony match or final.

Windsor Park would be among the venues that could be used as a training facility.

An Irish FA source said: "A working group has been established amongst the five nations to explore the possibility of a World Cup 2030 bid and the Irish FA remain committed to those discussions. It was a good opportunity for the different associations to hold further talks at the Uefa congress in Rome."

A final decision on whether to continue with the joint bid is not expected before the spring of 2020 at the earliest. The last time a major men's football tournament staged in the UK was the European Championship, held in England in 1996.

The Irish FA and Football Association of Ireland will also submit a joint bid to host the Uefa Under-21 Championship in 2023.

If the bid is successful the final would be staged at Windsor Park.

Belfast Telegraph

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