There’s nothing more prestigious for a professional footballer than the opportunity to take part in the glamorous UEFA and FIFA World Cup championships. And by the looks of it, the Balkans might have a shot at becoming the new hosts of the notorious competitions. FIFA and UEFA have been the two most watched football tournaments on the globe for numerous decades and hosting even one of these events not only aids the players by providing them with the home field advantage, but actually opens lots of doors for the host country’s overall economics. As such, it should come to no surprise that tons of controversy, endless efforts for joint bids and hectic applications are constantly rippling the members of the two leagues in the race for becoming the next host of the championships.
So far several Slavic countries have managed to host the games and even go to the finals. Ever since 1960 the USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have gotten to the finals of the UEFA Euros, with Yugoslavia, Poland and Ukraine scoring the prestige of being hosts. On the other hand, Russia has hosted the FIFA World Cup once while Czechoslovakia and Croatia have succeeded in reaching the finals.
Having these facts in mind it’s no wonder other countries on the Balkan Peninsula are trying to get the opportunity to host at least one of these games.
Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece have gathered together in a joint bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup and the 2028 UEFA Euros. During a memorandum Sports Ministers Vanja Udovicic, Krasen Kralev, Bogdan Matei and Giorgos Vasiliadis signed the agreement to present the leagues with their joint bid for becoming hosts of the two games. Official UEFA and FIFA representatives from each of the four countries joined the Ministers during the memorandum.
The idea of co-hosting the championships isn’t exactly ground-breaking since Japan, South Korea, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Poland and Ukraine have already pulled it off in previous tournaments. In other words, the four Balkan countries have a shot at passing their co-hosting bid.
The application on its own is quite tricky for each country desiring to become a host and the council’s vote is typically announced years ahead of the championships. Which is exactly why Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece won’t learn the results in the upcoming couple of years. Nevertheless, the four Balkan countries are optimistic about the future. According to the Greek Minister, the joint bid shows the rest of the world that the Balkans are ready to move forward towards a big change and are already taking the steps to reaching their goals as a strong, joint force that focuses on improving their economic and political stability.
Of course, the FIFA and UEFA council members are looking for more than just a promise and a signed agreement and it’s not a secret that various other countries are better candidates in terms of infrastructure and hosting requirements.
According to an official press release by the Bulgarian Sports Minister Krasen Kralev, each of the four applicants is going to significantly improve their infrastructure over these upcoming few years in order to meet the FIFA and UEFA standards. Greece is set out to renovate its current Olympic stadium, whereas Serbia is working on building a brand new one that would have a 60,000-people capacity. As for Bulgaria – the Minister stated that the country is investing the equivalent of $40 million USD into renovating old stadiums and building three new ones from scratch. Romania would probably renovate their current 55,000-people capacity stadium in Bucharest, which was initially constructed in 2011.