Boris Johnson calls for Ukraine to host Euro 2028 despite UK-Ireland bid | European Championship

Boris Johnson has described Russian plans to host the 2028 men’s European Championships as “beyond satire” and recommended the tournament be hosted by Ukraine, despite the UK and Ireland’s joint bid.

The prime minister was speaking in Brussels, where he was attending a Nato summit addressing Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday, Russia expressed a declaration of interest in hosting the 2028 or 2032 Euros.

“The idea of Russia holding any idea of football tournament or any kind of cultural event right now is beyond satire,” Johnson said. “I can’t believe that anybody would seriously consider their suggestion and, yes, I think the best thing possible would be for the entire Russian forces to retire forthwith from Ukraine and hand the tournament to them.”

Johnson had been replying to a direct question over whether it would be better for Ukraine to host the Euros than Russia, but he apparently failed to recall that his own country had bid for the tournament and that he had tweeted in support of it. On Wednesday, a message from Johnson’s official account read: “The UK and Ireland bid for the UEFA Euro 2028 has this government’s full backing.

“Our world-class stadiums and passionate fans stand ready to host one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Let’s bring football home.”

Last year, the government gave £2.8m to UK football associations to explore a bid for the 2030 World Cup, with Johnson vocally supportive of the decision. He was reported to have lobbied the president of Uefa, Aleksander Ceferin, over the bid but the process ended with a decision to apply for the European Championship instead after finding “many areas of uncertainty” in a World Cup push. Allying with Ireland, the five nations’ bid is the favourite to secure the 2028 tournament.

Johnson’s official spokesperson sought to row back from the prime minister’s remarks. “He was making a moral point that aggressors such as a Russia should not be given a platform on the international stage,” he said.

“Never mind the prestige of hosting a world renowned sporting competition. This suggestion is a brazen and sorely misjudged intervention from Russia given their appalling actions in Ukraine. But clearly, we remain entirely committed to the UK and Ireland bid for Euro 2028, which retains the government’s support.”

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Pressed on whether Johnson backed the UK and Ireland bid, he insisted he did, urging reporters to “look at the full clip” and arguing that “the question was posed in the context of Russia being awarded the championship”.

Asked whether Johnson was even aware of the UK and Ireland bid, he replied: “Yes.”

The Russian expression of interest was received coldly by Uefa, which warned it could receive further sanctions should a full bid go ahead. Russian teams are banned from Uefa competition at international and club level and Fifa has removed the country from the qualifying process for the World Cup in Qatar.

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