Bid leaders have promised Euro 2028 will be accessible and affordable after UEFA officially awarded the tournament to the UK and Ireland.
The five-nation bid was formally approved on Tuesday, having gone into decision day unopposed following the withdrawal of Turkey.
Politicians including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the announcement, with the tournament set to bring £2.6billion in benefits to the host economies, according to analysts.
Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said it was vital that the tournament be open to as many people from the five nations as possible.
Ten venues in nine cities were included in the final bid document submitted to UEFA in April – Wembley, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, Villa Park, Bramley-Moore Dock, St James’ Park, Hampden Park, the Aviva Stadium, a redeveloped Casement Park and the Principality Stadium.
Along with fan-zone sites and training grounds in other locations, Bullingham said the task was to ensure no-one feels cut off from the action, regardless of location or financial means.
“You’ve seen the selected stadia are spread throughout the whole of the country, so everyone has an event within touching distance,” he said in Nyon on Tuesday.
“It is critical that the whole country feels they are involved and we have that excitement throughout every part of the country.”
Bullingham confirmed all five countries would enter qualification, with UEFA having reserved two ‘safety net’ places for any that miss out.
Tickets for Euro 2024 start at 30 euros (£26) and, asked about how important it was to ensure affordability, Bullingham said: “We will absolutely always do that.
“We want the whole country to be engaged and experience being part of the Euros.”
— FA WALES (@FAWales) October 10, 2023
Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said hosting a major championship in the country was “pure gold” and revealed that the bid proposal was for Cardiff’s Principality Stadium to host the opening match, subject to UEFA approval.
Mooney said: “Cardiff would be perfect for the opening match. Look, we could be greedy and say we’d love the final as well, but then you’re denying 15 to 20,000 people the chance to be at a final.
“I think the way we’ve done the stadiums is very, very good. We’re hoping to get a quarter-final as well.
“The association’s job is to grow the game, to promote the game, to get more boys and girls involved, that’s our job. To have a major championship come to our country for the first time is pure gold.”Mooney added that the proposal was for Wembley to host the semi-finals and final as things stood.
Bullingham said the awarding of Euro 2028 to the UK and Ireland vindicated the decision by the five nations to turn away from the 2030 World Cup.
The countries had originally scoped out the feasibility of hosting the 2030 finals, but switched focus in February 2022. At the time Bullingham had spoken of the “uncertainty” surrounding a bid for the global event.
FIFA announced last week that a proposal for a three-continent, six-nation hosting of 2030 had been approved by its Council, opening the door for Saudi Arabia to likely stage the following tournament in 2034.
Asked whether he felt that was evidence the UK and Irish FAs had gone down the correct path, Bullingham said: “We have never doubted we made the right decision.
“We were choosing between two tournaments, one we felt we had a really good chance of winning, one we felt we at best would have been a real long shot to win.
“We chose to go for 2028 and we are delighted we did. We think the announcement helps vindicate the decision and we think we will put on a brilliant tournament that will make a massive impact on all parts of the country on our facilities, on the economic impact on the country, on fans and the feel-good factor.
“So we are delighted we have secured the tournament.”
Sunak, who had been at England’s training base at St George’s Park on Tuesday, welcomed UEFA’s announcement, saying: “I grew up with Euro 96 being one of the most amazing memories of my childhood.
It’s official: we’ve got the Euros.
Delighted to celebrate our winning bid with Gareth and the @England squad.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 10, 2023
“And we have a chance to do that all over again for lots more people, just like we did last year with the Lionesses.
“We host tournaments better than anyone else. It’s going to be a massive boost for the economy.
“We’re going to welcome millions of people to the country and it’s going to inspire a whole new generation.”