Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.22 2 Mar 2021


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Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said Ireland needs to look 'outside the fishbowl' in any potential bid for the 2030 World Cup.

Ireland and the UK are to make a joint bid to host the game in nine year's time.

A Government spokesperson confirmed the prospective five-association bid in a statement on Monday night.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) could be joint host of the tournament - along with the English, Welsh and Scottish associations.

Feasibility work on the bid is ongoing, while a Government spokesperson said "extensive engagement and collaboration" with the UK will continue.

Mr Ahern told The Hard Shoulder we would have to make sure we got a good deal.

"Our thing would be fighting for getting good games in good groups - we wouldn't want to be bringing over some country that would only have half-filled stadiums.

"I think we're well capable and if - as happened in the Rugby [World Cup bid] - that Croke Park were onboard and if they were facilitated, I think we'd have plenty of grounds.

"Remember 100 years ago - or 90 years ago - when Uruguay hosted the World Cup back in 1930, they were a population of 3.4 million people.

"And they've continued to be a force in international football for the last 90 years.

"So I think you have to look outside the fishbowl: I think this is an opportunity, the advantages lie on us working with the other associations - and I think it's worth it".

China 'a wealthy opposition'

But he said Ireland is already facing some tough competition for the bid.

"Even already, [there's] a lot of politics as we know within how FIFA operate - we know all the arguments around Qatar, different people have different views, but they have it in 2022.

"And then it goes to the other side of the world - US/Canada/Mexico have it in 2026.

"And even for 2030 already you have strong players.

"Uruguay, who were the hosts in the first World Cup... they joined with Paraguay, Chile and Argentina.

"And Morocco have already said they're interested - God knows who they'll pull in with them.

"And then of course, the one I would fear as the outsider maybe at this stage, but President Xi in China: one of his big ambitions is to get the World Cup to China.

"He's putting a lot of investment into soccer/football in China. They would be a wealthy opposition to come in".

Main image: Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern arrives to give evidence to the Seanad Select Brexit Committee at Leinster House, Dublin in 2017. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

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