Euro 2028 bid need not impact FAI’s efforts to develop Irish football, says Republic boss Kenny

Euro 2028 bid need not impact FAI’s efforts to develop Irish football, says Republic boss Kenny

by Emily Smith
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Covid-19 restrictions prevented Dublin’s Aviva Stadium from hosting games at last summer’s EurosRepublic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny believes co-hosting Euro 2028 does not have to impact efforts to improve the country’s football infrastructure.

The UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 looks set to be unopposed, according to The Times.

Kenny admits Irish infrastructure is “way behind” the rest of Europe, but feels co-hosting the Euros would be a positive for Irish football.

“I think the Irish football public would enjoy the experience,” he said.

“They would want to be a part of it, but it is years away.”

He added: “I don’t know how much money would be involved, it’s not something I’ve focused on in any great detail.”

The Republic had been set to stage games at Euro 2020 but were ultimately unable to do so because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Baraclough says NI must host games if UK and Republic’s joint bid is successfulThe football associations of the Republic of Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland said in February that they would be focusing on an official bid to host Euro 2028.

The FAI have also recently unveiled a strategy document which outlines a commitment to transform Irish football’s facilities and infrastructure.

As a result, the FAI’s involvement in the bid to co-host the European Championship caused consternation among those who feel the money needed to host matches should be spent in other areas of the Irish game.

Kenny, however, believes that the two can co-exist.

“Do I want all the resources to be focused on that and away from all the other aspects of football in Ireland? No, I don’t, of course not. That’s not the question,” added the Dubliner.

“Can they co-exist, can we continue to grow football at all levels in the country and the league and still have Euro 2028 as a separate entity and something to look forward to in several years’ time? Possibly. That’s the way I see it.

“I know that there are programmes for clubs to try to increase the infrastructure because we are way behind the rest of Europe in relation to stadium facilities.

“We are way behind in this country, we know that, but I don’t think that is necessarily conflicting with hosting Euro 28.”

Lenihan adds to Republic injury woes Kenny, who last month signed a contract extension that will see him remain in charge until Euro 2024, was speaking in Dublin ahead of the Republic’s friendly double-header against Belgium and Lithuania.

Belgium, the world’s top-ranked team, will arrive in Dublin without many of their star players after boss Roberto Martinez chose to select only players with fewer than 50 caps.

However, Kenny will be without Darragh Lenihan after the Blackburn Rovers defender suffered a torn groin with Adam Idah, Andrew Omobamidele, Enda Stevens and Callum O’Dowda already absent.

“All of their players are from top teams in the European leagues,” Kenny said of Saturday’s opponents Belgium.

“[Romelu] Lukaku isn’t fit, so they have a choice, [Michy] Batshuayi, [Divock] Origi or [Christian] Benteke as their first number nine – and only one of them will play.

“They’ve got that right throughout the team. [Dedryck] Boyata would come in at the back, but he’s not a young player, he’s 31, and Jason Denayer, those players will come in and they’ve already played in major tournaments.

“They have a formidable team, a world number one team and a formidable strength in depth, and we’re aware of that.”

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