- Paul Fennessy reports from Windsor Park
THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland and the Irish Football Association will launch a bid to co-host the 2023 European U21 Championships, it has been announced.
FAI chief executive John Delaney and IFA boss Patrick Nelson spoke today at an event in Windsor Park, Belfast.
It is the first time the two associations have worked together on a joint bid, ahead of the senior teams lining out in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium in a fortnight’s time.
Potential venues have yet to be finalised, but matches could be played at the Aviva Stadium, Windsor Park, the redeveloped Dalymount Park, Ballymena Showgrounds, Tallaght Stadium, Turner’s Cross, Thomond Park and Kingspan Stadium.
A formal bid will be submitted next year and Uefa’s decision is due in early 2020.
If successful, both the Republic and Nothern Ireland would be expected to qualify as host nations.
“This is an historic announcement as it sees both the FAI and the Irish FA working together on a project which will bring significant benefits to Ireland — north and south,” said Delaney. “We believe that the unique nature of our bid makes it a compelling vision for both Uefa and the wider European football family.
“Both Associations have a recent history of working together on various projects, including third level football, walking football, and the introduction of the President’s Junior Cup.
This joint bid further strengthens that level of co-operation and co-hosting the U21 finals in 2023 will follow on from our hosting of the U17 Euros next summer and four games in Euro 2020 in Aviva Stadium.”
Nelson added: “Northern Ireland successfully hosted the 2017 Uefa Women’s U19 Championship and will host the Uefa U19 Championship in 2020. We saw last year how a tournament can help inspire a generation to play football and I have no doubt that, if successful, 2023 would help grow the game at all levels.
“We could not host a tournament of this scale on our own, therefore I am pleased that both Associations are working in partnership on this bid. I believe that together we can showcase the best of the game in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the football world.”
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