Football Features

UK and Ireland to host Euro 2028: All you need to know about the tournament so far

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:15, 11 October 2023

The United Kingdom and Ireland have been confirmed as co-hosts of Euro 2028.

The decision will likely see Wembley host the final once again, seven years on from the rescheduled Euro 2020 final between Italy and England. That final, which Italy won on penalties, was marred by crowd disorder and violence before the game which saw ticketless fans fighting stewards and police while trying to enter the stadium.

As a result, a year later England had to play their Uefa Nations League game against Italy behind closed doors, with only 1,782 school children allowed to attend.

However, a year on from the Euro 2020 final, England hosted the Women’s European Championships without incident and to great success, which may have helped their case.

Scotland were also among the hosts at the multi-national Euro 2020, holding four games at Hampden Park. Ireland were meant to hold matches in Dublin, too, but were unable to meet Uefa-enforced Covid guidelines at the time.

But the Aviva Stadium in Dublin is now one of the 10 host stadiums for the joint-tournament with the United Kingdom, the only stadium from Ireland to be used. England have the most venues in play, with Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad, Villa Park, St James’ Park and the Everton Stadium all hosting games. The rest of the countries have one stadium each:

  • Wales: Millennium Stadium
  • Scotland: Hampden Park
  • Northern Ireland: Casement Park

The main rivals for the bid were Italy and Turkey, but both pulled out before voting started, instead combining to host Euro 2032. It means United Kingdom and Ireland were actually unopposed when it came to the decision being made.

The full schedule will be confirmed after next summer’s Euro 2024, including which stadiums will host which matches, but Wales are making an early push to host the opener in Cardiff. It’s worth noting that the semi-finals and final will be at Wembley.

Former Wales captain Gareth Bale, who retired from football last year, said: “As a Welshman, I would love for Cardiff to host the opening match.

“I am sure that’s something we will try to push for – we have the stadium and infrastructure for it.”

His sentiments were echoed by FA of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney, who added: “We’d like the national stadium of Wales to host the opening game.

“It’s a perfect venue for the opening match, and also a quarter-final as well is what we have proposed. But ultimately that’s not up to us, that’s up to Uefa to choose. We’ve put forward a schedule of matches.

“We think Cardiff is perfect for the opener, to welcome the world to Cymru, and we look forward to it.”

Will all five nations automatically qualify for Euro 2028?

Usually, hosts nations are awarded an automatic spot in the tournament, with the exception of Euro 2020 when it was a multi-national football showpiece. Germany are the current nation enjoying the bye to the tournament, watching qualification safe in the knowledge that they will be at Euro 2024.

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However, once again things are going to be a little different. Because five nations are hosting Euro 2028, Uefa cannot give all five an automatic place — it would leave just 19 spots up for grabs. In the past, when there have been two hosts, Uefa have allowed both to automatically qualify so two of the five hosts of Euro 2028 could be given a spot, meaning three would miss out.

There would be a lot of discussion as to who those two teams would be. According to the BBC, there has been talk of all five nations going into qualifying with two spots held just in case hey fail to make the cut through the traditional route. However, Uefa are reportedly unlikely to allow this as it would mess with the qualification process and would reward nations who have failed to qualify.

The Guardian, meanwhile, are reporting that England have requested to go through qualification as normal, aiming to keep the team competitive. It’s a problem Germany have faced this year, losing four of their seven games this year, all of which have been friendlies. Germany have only managed to beat Peru and France, losing to Belgium, Poland, Colombia and Japan alongside a draw with Ukraine.

England have failed to qualify for the European Championships on five occasions, including their first attempt in 1964 when they lost to France in the preliminary rounds — when qualifying was a straight knockout system. The Three Lions then failed to qualify for both Euro 1972 and 1976.

For Euro 1972, England made it through the group phase of qualifying but were knocked out of the quarter-finals by West Germany, as the official final tournament only consisted of four teams. Four years later, England finished second in their qualifying group behind Czechoslovakia, with a defeat in Bratislava proving costly. In qualifying for 1984, England once again finished second in their group, this time a point behind Denmark with their only defeat coming against the Danes.

And, finally, the one that is still fresh in many people’s memories, there was Euro 2008. The climax of the disastrous Steve McClaren era, England finished third in their qualifying group behind Croatia and Russia. England went into the final game against Croatia at Wembley knowing a draw would have been enough to see the Three Lions through, owing to their better head-to-head record against Russia on goals difference. But, having pulled it back to 2-2 after going 2-0 down in the first half, England conceded in the 77th minute to Mladen Petric, ending the dreams on a rainy night in north London. There was also the away defeat to Croatia, which included Gary Neville’s bizarre own goal.

How England could line up at Euro 2028

England still need to qualify for and, hopefully, play at Euro 2024 but that hasn’t stopped Harry Kane from dreaming about Euro 2028. The English captain will be edging towards his 35th birthday when the tournament comes around, and he’s hoping to still be playing for England — not just in 2028 but for another eight or nine years.

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“The perception in sport or football is that you hit 30 and people start to think it’s the end,” he said.

“But the way I am looking at it is that I almost have the second half of my career now. I’ve had nine or 10 years at the highest level and I’m hoping for another eight or nine years.”

He added: “Not just in Germany next summer but being at home [in 2028] and playing games at Wembley will bring back memories of the last Euros. To win a tournament would be special but to win it in your home country would be a dream come true.”

So, who could line up for England at Euro 2028 based on current players? We’ve put together a few different line-ups below.

Looking solely at players to have featured for the senior squad, a fair few of the current team would fancy themselves in making it to Euro 2028 alongside Kane. Of the XI above, only Kane and Chilwell would be over the age of 30 among the outfield players, with the latter turning 32 towards the end of 2028. Aaron Ramsdale would turn 30 just before the tournament, while Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 30th birthday would come after Euro 2028. It’s possible Alexander-Arnold will have made a full transition to midfielder by this point, with Reece James taking the right-back spot, if he manages to win his battle with reoccurring injuries.

England do, of course, have a lot of stars currently in the Under-21 team, or members of the Under-21 Euros-winning squad. There is every chance we could see some of them becoming mainstays of the senior team by the time Euro 2028 comes around. James Trafford was the hero in goal and may fancy himself to take over from Jordan Pickford as the long-term no.1. Rico Lewis is making a name for himself in Man City’s senior side and may be the fix for England’s left-back problems. Further forward, Marcus Rashford may be the main striking man should Kane not get his wish of playing until 2028, with Cole Palmer among those backed to thrive over the next few years.