Principality Stadium

Gareth Bale of Real Madrid celebrates with The Champions League trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and Real Madrid at National Stadium of Wales on June 03, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

Wales Want Six Matches As Part Of Euro 2028 Joint Host Plan

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By David Williams

Wales will press for hosting up to six games after the joint UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 is given the formal seal of approval on Tuesday.

The UEFA executive committee is set to give the green light to the five-nation bid, which is unopposed after Turkey withdrew last week to focus on its joint bid with Italy for Euro 2032.

The Principality Stadium in Cardiff will be a central part of the 10-stadia plan with Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney pledging Wales will attempt to host up to half a dozen matches.

That is likely to comprise three group stage games, plus a last 16-tie, a quarter-final, and possibly a semi-final.

Mooney said: “It’s very collegiate. We’ve put forward what we all want.

โ€œIt’s the bid that’s going forward… For us, we want to have group matches and a couple of matches after that.

“I think we’d be looking for four, five, or six matches. We’d be really happy and I think some of the other associations would be happy as well.”

The tournament will be held in June and July of 2028 – exactly seven years since England and Scotland both hosted games during the re-arranged 2020 tournament, which was held across Europe.

Normally, all nations hosting a tournament would be handed spots at the finals – but as in Euro 2020, because so many countries are involved, it is thought all five will have to qualify.

Ten stadia were included in the UK-Ireland’s bid, which was submitted in April. Six are in England, with one each from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The six in England are Wembley, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, St James’ Park, Villa Park and Everton’s new home at Bramley-Moore Dock.

A redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast, the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Hampden Park in Glasgow and the Principality Stadium comprise the remaining four.

Wembley would be expected to host the final in 2028, another major test for the 90,000-capacity venue after the chaos surrounding its hosting of the Euro 2020 final.

Football Association chair Debbie Hewitt said in June: “One of the things I am absolutely convinced UEFA’s Exco will ask us is, ‘How can you assure us nobody will storm the turnstiles?’

“We have to convince every one of those Exco members we have not only thought about it, but that we have planned for it – that we know what we would do in what order and who is accountable.”

Even though several of the submitted stadia will hold in excess of 60,000 fans come 2028, Mooney believes Wembley should be the focal point for the conclusion of Euro 2028.

“The UK is at the forefront of security and intelligence. The final of Euro 2020 was a difficult day on the security front for so many – it was a shock because they’re so good at managing these events,” he said.

“I would take this as a one-off in this part of the world and knowing what has been done with the report – which was generated and has been actioned – all those things are going in the right direction. You can never do enough on security and I do know we will have a fantastic security proposal.

“You look at a tournament to get as many people to the games. It’s about getting access to this really glorious special tournament, that’s the principle we work on and based on that, Wembley is 90,000 people.

“Why would you deny tens of thousands of people going to a Euros final because of politics? I think we should try and get as many people as possible to the games.”

Even with Turkey in the running, the five-nation bid was the overwhelming favourite to be selected.

Senior UEFA sources have indicated the importance of hosting another European Championships in a major football market, following on from next year’s tournament in Germany, as European football’s governing body seeks to further replenish its reserves after the financial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The five nations released a joint statement last week following Turkey’s withdrawal, stating they had a “compelling” and “ground-breaking” proposal for UEFA to consider, which would deliver “lasting legacies” across the whole of Ireland and the UK.

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