Ireland and the UK are all set to to be ratified unopposed as Euro 2028 co-hosts by UEFA next Tuesday after Turkey withdrew from the bidding process.
Ireland’s hosting duties for the 2028 European Championships is “great for football”, “great for the country”, and positive for UK-Ireland relations, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil.
The Aviva Stadium and the as-yet-to-be-built Casement Park in Belfast are listed among 10 confirmed venues for the combined Irish and UK bid.
Mr Varadkar said discussions are already underway as to how the Government can contribute to the construction of Casement Park.
“We learned today that Turkey has withdrawn its bid. And we anticipate that next week UEFA will formally announce that the UK and Ireland will host the 2028 tournament.
“I think that’s going to be great for football. I think it’s going to be great for the country. I think it’s a good thing.”
Labour Party TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin wasn’t so effusive saying it was “a distraction” and would mask “the level of facilities that we have in Ireland, which are very poor.”
Nearly a third of clubs can’t even provide basic facilities for girls teams, he complained. Meanwhile underage games were being called off because of inadequate conditions.
“This is potentially a huge distraction and turn terms of football infrastructure in this country.”
Infrastructure and resources were needed in these areas, “and the hosting of a tournament should not distract Government from that angle.”
Leo Varadkar corrected him: “I don’t think these two things are in conflict, or should be in conflict.
Mr Varadkar said it was also positive for UK-Ireland relations and he would discuss it with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when they meet at a European Political Community event in Granada tomorrow.
He added: “The two stadiums that we need are Aviva, which is pretty much built already, and Casement Park.”
The Aviva will not require a huge amount of additional work, but what was really crucial was Casement Park in Belfast, he said.
“We’re in discussions with the Ulster GAA Council and also the British Government as to how we can make a contribution to the cost of building that new stadium,” Mr Varadkar revealed.