Keeping Euro 2020 semis and final at Wembley boosts World Cup bid, says FA

The Football Association’s chief executive, Mark Bullingham, has said keeping the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 at Wembley will help his organisation maintain a strong relationship with Uefa, potentially boosting England’s chances of hosting the 2030 World Cup.

The UK government has reached an agreement with Uefa to allow more than 60,000 fans into Wembley for the three games after speculation the matches could be moved to Budapest. It is also expected that a controversial request from Uefa to waive quarantine rules for VIPs, sponsors and broadcast partners entering the UK will be granted.

The FA is conducting a feasibility study into whether to bid for the World Cup and Bullingham believes that seeing eye to eye with Uefa is vital. “Our relationship with Uefa, not just from a government point of view but from an FA point of view, is massively important,” he said. “We wanted to absolutely keep that [the final]. There were lots of things in my mind when we were having those discussions. That was one of them.

“Aside from that, we’ve had a team that has sweated blood for three to four years on this tournament. Not to be able to stage the semi-final and final would be heartbreaking for them.”

The FA was humiliated when, in December 2010, it failed to beat Russia in the bidding for the 2018 World Cup and Bullingham is determined not to waste money on another lost cause. “We’re doing a feasibility study to ascertain what would a bid look like, what’s the governance of it and, fundamentally, can we win it?” he said. “All of us would like to host a World Cup here. It would have a massive impact on everything we’re trying to achieve, from grassroots participation to impact on our own finances, it would be great. But we’re only going to bid if we can win.”

Bullingham said a joint bid from Spain and Portugal would provide tough competition, especially as Uefa wants one European bidder. “If we decide to bid the first step of it will effectively be a primary in Europe,” he said. “That’s as much of a challenge as actually winning it. Spain and Portugal would be compelling. Uefa only want one bidder and it makes no sense not to be in that scenario because whoever goes into it from a European point of view does so with 55 votes in the bag. There would be a two-step process.”

The FA and Uefa were aligned when it came to stopping plans to start a European Super League. Bullingham suggested the FA was looking into ways to prevent English clubs from signing foreign players to play in a Super League. “We may tweak some aspects of the visa system to make sure that people only get visas for our competitions that we accredit,” he said. “So you can’t pull in talent from abroad to play in competitions that we don’t sanction.”


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