Following England’s loss in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium, football fans are looking for another shot at success in the 2022 World Cup, hosted by Qatar. Looking further into the future, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced his support for the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to launch a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup and pledged £2.8 million to begin the process. The football associations of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland have subsequently begun feasibility studies.
The latest research by Redfield & Wilton strategies finds that 54% of Britons would support the United Kingdom and Ireland hosting the 2030 FIFA World Cup together, including almost a quarter (24%) who would strongly support it. A further 23% would neither support nor oppose the joint bid, and 17% would oppose it, with 10% strongly opposed.
A majority or plurality of all age groups support the joint bid, but support is highest amongst 35-to-44-year-olds, with a majority of 62% in support of the idea. This figure is followed by similar percentages of 45-to-54-year-olds (60%) and 25-to-34-year-olds (59%). Support is lowest amongst those aged 65 or over, of whom a plurality of 41% would support the joint host duties and 21% would oppose. Interestingly, 18-to-24-year-olds have the second-lowest levels of support, with 52% in support of the idea and 18% in opposition.
We do not observe a significant gender divide in support, with 56% of women and 53% of men responding that they support the joint bid. However, women are less likely to oppose the joint World Cup bid: only 12% of women are opposed, compared to 21% of men—14% of whom strongly oppose the idea.
Nevertheless, many Britons think the UK’s 2030 World Cup bid should be negatively impacted by the behaviour of English football fans at the Euro 2020 final—which included some fans storming the stadium, booing the Italian anthem, and racially abusing England’s Black players.
A majority of 51% think that the United Kingdom’s bid should be negatively impacted by fan behaviour, with 26% saying that it should have a very negative impact. Just 17% of Britons think that it should have a positive impact, and a further quarter (24%) think it should have a neither positive nor negative impact on the World Cup bid.
Age appears to be a key indicator of the strength of this position: 33% of 18-to-24-year-olds think fan behaviour should have a negative impact on the UK’s bid, compared to 60% of those aged 65 and over. Interestingly, those aged 18 to 24 are split on what impact this should have on the World Cup bid, with 35% saying it should have a positive impact—perhaps reflecting on the overall positive atmosphere at Wembley.
A clear majority of Scottish respondents (64%) responded that the UK’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup should be negatively impacted, including 45% who say it should be very negatively impacted. By contrast, Londoners are less insistent on negative repercussions: 49% say that the bid should be negatively impacted, but almost a quarter (24%) say that fan behaviour should positively impact the UK and Ireland’s joint bid.
Overall, there is support amongst the British public for a UK and Ireland joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup. Majorities or pluralities of all age groups support the idea, and women show lower levels of opposition than men. However, a majority of Britons also think that the behaviour of fans at the recent Euro 2020 final should have a negative impact on the bid following UEFA investigations into fan disruption of the match. As England tries for another chance at a final in 2022, positive fan behaviour appears crucial in the minds of many Britons if the UK and Ireland’s bid is to be successful.