The proposed UK-Ireland 2030 World Cup is being seized as an opportunity to show union, The Telegraph understands, with ministers planning a “suitable all-encompassing exhibition” that “shows the power of our work together”.
The planned fair will include football associations from each of the four UK countries, as well as the Irish Football Association, with proposals for the match taking place in every part of the country.
Officials from each country and Ireland have held talks about the move, and a figure is now being sought to publicly lead the bid, with Lord Coe, a former athlete, successfully spearheading London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics.
While government figures insisted that the UK’s plans to host the tournament with Ireland amounted to more than a “federation project”, several sources said it was recognized that the process could help weaken the independence movement in Scotland.
Nicholas Sturgeon, the prime minister, is not expected to attempt to call an independence referendum until at least 2023, and FIFA is expected to make a decision on the location of the 2030 tournament in 2024.
In meetings on plans to convene the federation, ministers in private referred to the “power of sport” in strengthening relations between nations.
During the 2019 election, Boris Johnson pledged to spend an additional £550m on grassroots football in a bid to bring the 2030 World Cup to the UK, with sources confirming the money would be spent in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. .
On Thursday, the Prime Minister will use a speech on the country’s ‘commitment’ to make plans to support local sports teams, including £25m for new grassroots sports facilities, the equivalent of 50 man-made stadiums.
Dan Rosenfeld, Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, is closely involved in the plans for the proposed bid, which would require facing a competing European bid from Spain and Portugal to host the tournament.
A government source said: It would be a suitable offer. We will all have to come together and organize a great tournament for everyone. I think it will show the strength of our work together.”
But insisting that the program is not just a “union project,” the source said, “This is a great opportunity for all of us to come together and take action.”
Spain and Portugal confirmed their joint offer last year.
Since then, the United Kingdom and Ireland have embarked on a charm offensive to persuade other European countries to support his candidacy.
A source said the two countries were “in good standing” with UEFA after Johnson’s reaction to plans to create a controversial breakaway European Super League.
All English clubs linked to the plan withdrew, but Spanish teams Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to support the proposed competition.
Last month, Rosenfeld sparked controversy over a deal that would allow top footballers to attend the Euro 2020 final on Sunday without being quarantined.
The government faced a backlash from senior Tory MPs over the decision to exempt UEFA officials, politicians and sponsors from having to self-isolate for 10 days upon their arrival in the UK.
Up to 1,000 Italian fans also had the opportunity to travel, but only 500 are believed to have accepted the offer, along with less than half of UEFA’s VIPs.
The final was seen as a vital opportunity to demonstrate the UK’s ability to host the big matches.
Johnson signed plans for the Royal Air Force Red to fly over Wembley Stadium on Sunday, while the national anthem is played and the Union Jack colors are displayed.
One source said the UK-Ireland Championships would be a “really inclusive World Cup” that would “embrace technology… and ensure it’s a truly World Cup for the world”.