England is ready to host extra matches for this year’s European football championships, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an interview published on Tuesday.
Johnson told The Sun that his government’s ambitions went further in a joint United Kingdom and Ireland candidacy to host the 2030 World Cup.
The Euros are set to be played in 12 cities across the continent from June 11, after being postponed last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The tabloid said ministers are holding talks with European football’s governing body UEFA about hosting more games due to rising cases across the continent and the slow roll out of vaccines.
Britain has been one of the nations hardest-hit by the virus but has already vaccinated 20 million people with at least one dose and plans to finish the whole population by the end of July.
Johnson’s spokesman last week dismissed talk about England hosting the whole tournament but Johnson indicated the country could take on more than just the semi-finals and final at Wembley.
“Any other matches they want hosted, we are certainly on for that!” he said. “We are hosting the Euros. We are hosting the semis and the final.”
“If there’s, you know, if they want any other matches that they want hosted, we’re certainly on for that but at the moment that’s where we are with UEFA.”
The Sun said finance minister Finance Rishi Sunak will announce in his Budget on Wednesday funds of £2.8 million ($3.9 million) to promote the UK and Ireland’s bid for the 2030 World Cup.
England has hosted the tournament once before in 1966 — the only time they have won the trophy — and lost out for the hosting of the 2006 edition to Germany and the 2018 finals to Russia.
“We are very, very keen to bring football home in 2030,” said Johnson. “I do think it’s the right place.
“It’s the home of football, it’s the right time. It will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country.”
An Irish government spokesman confirmed they were keen to be part of a joint bid, and an assessment would be made.
“We look forward to further extensive engagement and collaboration as we seek to refine our hosting proposals in the coming months,” said prime minister Micheal Martin’s spokesman.