Euro 2020 final chaos has not halted joint British-Irish World Cup bid, minister says

Nigel Huddleston says disturbances at July event in Wembley have ‘harmed’ 2030 bid

 A view of Wembley Way as thousands of fans mingle before the Uefa Euro 2020 final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11th, in London, the UK. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

A view of Wembley Way as thousands of fans mingle before the Uefa Euro 2020 final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11th, in London, the UK. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

 

The chaos and crowd trouble at July’s Euro 2020 final have harmed but “not put the kibosh” on the combined British and Irish bid for the 2030 World Cup, the British sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, has insisted.

However, Mr Huddleston’s claims were rejected by Julian Knight, chair of the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee, who said that the British government’s plans to spend £11 million (about €13.06 million) on a feasibility study before bidding for the 2030 tournament were “utter nonsense”.

“Give me the money if you want, I can just tell you that we’re never going to win it,” Mr Knight told Mr Huddleston, pointing to England’s disastrous 2018 World Cup bid and the disturbances at the European Championship final between England and Italy as huge barriers to a successful attempt.

Mr Huddleston said he did not share Mr Knight’s pessimism because he believed Fifa’s bidding process had fundamentally changed. He also said that while the fighting and disturbances that ensued when ticketless fans gained entry to Wembley at the July final had “harmed” the bid, it was not reflective of a wider problem.

“As you know last time we were made promises behind closed doors and those World Cup votes did not transpire,” he said. “The process has changed. If it hadn’t, I would share your scepticism.”

Last month, Uefa’s disciplinary panel handed England a two-match stadium ban, with one of those suspended for two years, and a €100,000 fine over the scenes at Wembley at the Euro 2020 final.

“Everybody saw that on TV screens around the world. It was not great,” Mr Huddleston said of the disturbances. “I blame those who participated in this unruly and despicable behaviour for undermining our national game, and actually potentially undermining our ability to put a credible pitch forward to Uefa and Fifa for the World Cup.

“That said, in the conversations we’ve had so far it’s recognised that it was exceptional and we actually can hold events very well. And I don’t believe that the events at Wembley, in and of themselves, are going to put the kibosh on our bid. In fact, not at all.” – Guardian

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