Football

What Irish Stadiums Could Host World Cup Games in A 2030 Bid?

What Irish Stadiums Could Host World Cup Games in A 2030 Bid?

In a difficult period for the Irish government, there has been an outlying good news story this week - in the form of hosting the 2030 World Cup.

The government have backed a proposal for Ireland to host the major footballing tournament, along with their footballing counterparts in the UK.

Minister for Sport, Jack Chambers, has said "the strength of the five nations and football associations coming together to collaborate on such a feasibility study is really important." Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also backed the bid, saying they will "do everything we can to add value to that proposition".

Which leads us to think, what stadiums are purpose built to host World Cup games here? Are some an upgrade away from hosting? Will the GAA grant permission to use their stadiums for the tournament?

A lot of these questions are yet to be determined, which leads a lot of this information to be speculative and predictive. However, one can only imagine what Croke Park would be like hosting a World Cup final, and what it would do for tourism in the country.

The Criteria

South Africa World Cup 2010

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FIFA requirements have outlined since 2001 that stadiums have a minimum capacity of 40,000. This elevates to 60,000 for hosting quarter-finals, and 80,000 for opening ceremonies and finals.

There have been cases when stadiums were allowed to host games under the 40,000 threshold. In 2010, South Africa's Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg had a capacity of 38,646. Two Brazilian stadiums in Curitiba and Natal were shy of the mark, as well as two Russian stadiums in Yekaterinburg and Kaliningrad, which seated around 35,000.

The Power Share

Wembley Stadium

It's yet to be determined how many stadiums Ireland will have to put forward. It's a unique situation to see five nations apply for the one hosting duty, however it has been split before. South Korea and Japan were the last nations to share a World Cup, each putting forward ten stadiums for selection.

FIFA have usually required a minimum of 16 to 18 stadiums to be put forward in the application process. From there, they select the twelve most suitable candidates. If Ireland was to share this bid, it's a case of what share the other countries get too. England could host all twelve with their infrastructure, Scotland have four stadiums that meet the initial criteria while Wales have one.

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If we were to predict, Wembley would be the finals host. Old Trafford, West Ham's London Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Emirates Stadium would all be front runners, all with capacities of more than 60,000.

Twickenham and Murrayfield could be ready to go if given permission from their rugby union counterparts. Scotland also have Celtic Park, Hampden Park and The Ibrox to put forward. Cardiff's Principality Stadium is likely the Welsh drawing power in the bid. That's eleven stadiums, not including seven English football stadiums all with over 40,000 capacity.

The Eligible Ones

In terms of an Irish bid, only Croke Park and The Aviva Stadium are currently eligible. FIFA's 40,000 seater requirement does include seats only, which would rule out the likes of Semple Stadium, Pairc Uí Chaoimh and the Gaelic Grounds. There have been plans to redevelop Casement Park in Belfast pending further funding.

Would it be too unrealistic to see a GAA stadium other than Croke Park enter the fray for hosting? Several hosts over the years have been injected with cash flow to redevelop and build new stadiums, stands and increase capacity. It's just a case of if Ireland only have one or two options to choose from, the Aviva and Croke Park are the likely choices.

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Nonetheless, it would be great to see a venue outside of the capital host a match, or at least be in the running for selection. The problem lies with the GAA's structure in standing capacity, and it not meeting the minimum seating requirements.

The Conclusion 

Limerick's Gaelic Grounds

It's only realistic to say Ireland will probably only get one or two stadiums in this shared proposal. Two would be a best case scenario, given how well set up arenas are in the UK for major events. Croke Park has a wealth of history of hosting 80,000 fans, and the Aviva Stadium hosted the Europa League final not long ago. There are 48 teams being entered into this World Cup, so that's another thing to take into account.

The question lies within the investment made for the tournament and if there is a will to bring the spectacle elsewhere. After all, it would be a benefit to see a city like Limerick or Cork host these games and bring fans into the wonders of the Irish countryside. Get J.P. to put them up in Adare Manor and they'll not want to leave.

 

See Also: FAI Chief Executive Holds Hopes Ireland Can Host 2030 FIFA World Cup

Jonathan Byrne

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