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Major tournaments such as 2030 World Cup could come to Northern Ireland, says Minister Hargey



Big hit: The Open at Portrush

Big hit: The Open at Portrush

Big hit: The Open at Portrush

Deirdre Hargey wants to see more huge sporting events brought to Northern Ireland, including the 2030 World Cup finals.

The Sports Minister says that talks are continuing with English, Scottish, Welsh and Republic of Ireland counterparts about the possibility of bringing the tournament to the islands.

At this stage, Northern Ireland does not have a stadium large enough to host World Cup games but could be used as a training facility for several nations taking part.

Commenting on the prospect of a 2030 World Cup bid, Hargey explained: "We are involved in initial discussions with England, Scotland, Wales and the South of Ireland about could something be held across the nations and across the islands to host an event of that scale. It would be a huge competition.

"That wouldn't necessarily be through my Department. It would be through the Economy (Department) and Tourism NI.

"There is an aspiration to bring more big events here. We had The Open, the Giro cycling race, World Police and Fire Games, the Women's Rugby World Cup and others, and they have lifted us in terms of ambition and opened us to a bigger world out there.

"When we get people here they love it, the sense of place, the people, the food offering, the culture and the landscape. The Open and Giro displayed that landscape and that drives up visitor numbers.

"It has a positive impact not just on the sport but the economy as well. I will be keen to look at bringing more events here.

"I think it is also important to host All-Ireland Championships in different sports to help our homegrown talent while still having these big events that come every few years.

"I will be in contact with Tourism NI, Tourism Ireland, the Economy Minister and local councils to see what we can do.

"These events aren't just about tourism but the legacy they leave for the sport on the ground and getting people interested in sport."

Belfast Telegraph