FA explore options of bringing expanded 2030 World Cup to England

The prospect of England hosting the 2030 World Cup has taken a significant step forward with confirmation that the Football Association's board has approved a feasibility study into becoming Europe's sole bidders for the tournament.

France celebrate with the trophy after winning the FIFA World Cup Final at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. The 2018 tournament was hosted by Russia, who defeated England for the right to stage the tournament. (Picture: PA)

England won the only World Cup it has ever hosted in 1966 but lost with bids for the 2006 and 2018 competitions.

That most recent defeat was an embarrassing and expensive affair, with England going out in the first round of voting, but the FA has made little secret of its interest in trying again, particularly as it now has more faith in FIFA’s selection process.

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With the World Cup growing from 32 to 48 teams in 2026, when the 80-game tournament will be held in Canada, Mexico and the United States, FIFA has hinted it believes the event may be too big for one country.

This has led to speculation that any bid from the United Kingdom will actually be an English-led joint bid with one, two or all three of the other home nations, and both the Prime Minister Theresa May and the opposition Labour Party gave their support for this idea last month. The FA has not confirmed or denied if it is considering a joint bid with any combination of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but it has now formally admitted it is studying options.

In a statement, FA chairman Greg Clarke said: “Last month the English FA board agreed to conduct feasibility work into the possibility of putting itself forward to be UEFA’s potential candidate to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

“This work will take place during the new season and no decision will be made until 2019.”

Clarke’s use of “English” FA is revealing as there is a conscious effort at football’s oldest national governing body to be humbler on the world stage, where every other FA’s name contains a reference to its nationality.

FIFA rotates the World Cups among its six confederations, which means that because 2022 host Qatar is in the Asian Football Confederation, any putative bids from China or North and South Korea would have to wait until 2034, as a host confederation cannot bid for the next two World Cups.

As the 2026 tournament is in North America, the 2030 battle looks set to be between a Moroccan-led North African bid, a joint bid from Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and whoever emerges from Europe.

Of those, the South American bid looks the most compelling as 2030 will be the 100th anniversary of the first World Cup in Uruguay.