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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 19 November, 2018

Former Fifa President Sepp Blatter would back a UK and Ireland World Cup bid

The controversial figure also believes a 48-team tournament is a bad idea.

FORMER FIFA PRESIDENT Sepp Blatter says he would back either an England or joint-UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup.

The 82-year-old is a hugely controversial figure within football, and his 17-year reign as Fifa chief coincided with the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, with the former decision coming much to the frustration of a rival English bid.

Blatter’s lengthy reign ended in acrimony, as he stepped down from his role governing the sport following a wide-ranging corruption scandal within his organisation, while in December 2015, he was suspended for eight years from football, later reduced to six, following an investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee.

However, the veteran administrator has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has arrived at the World Cup in Russia as a guest of President Vladimir Putin.

Blatter is expected to attend today’s game between Portugal and Morocco, while he has not been shying away from publicity, suggesting to Sky Sports News that he would back any prospective bid for the 2030 World Cup by Ireland and the UK.

The former Fifa chief told Sky Sports that he would like to see both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland join forces to host at least part of the tournament on this island when the World Cup returns to Europe in 12 years’ time.

“I think England or Ireland deserve to organise the World Cup. They [England] have had it in ’66 so it is a long time ago,” he said.

“I spoke with one of your colleagues from Associated Press and he said if Wales and Scotland joined together and I said: ‘Why not Ireland?’”

Blatter added that he would support an all-Ireland bid rather than one that solely includes the Republic or the North: “All of Ireland together! They will be a candidate, I’m sure. And I think with 48 teams, you need more than one country, definitely.”

He has also been speaking to Fox Sports, telling them that plans for future 48-team World Cups are ill-advised.

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Paul Fennessy

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