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24 Mar, 2022 19:02

British PM scores own goal with Ukraine Euro backing

The UK prime minister claimed Russia's bid to host Euro 2028 or 2032 was 'beyond satire'
British PM scores own goal with Ukraine Euro backing

UK leader Boris Johnson claims Russia's potential bid to host the European Championships is "beyond satire" while backing Ukraine to receive the UEFA tournament despite his country and Ireland launching a joint effort to host the event in 2028.

Along with Turkey, Russia lodged a declaration of interest in hosting the continental tournament in 2028 or 2032, which was announced and recognized by European governing body UEFA on Wednesday. 

On Thursday while attending a Brussels NATO summit addressing Russia's military operation in Ukraine, Johnson claimed that "the idea of Russia holding any idea of football tournament or any kind of cultural event right now is beyond satire. 

"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 added, when responding to a question as to whether it would be more suitable for Ukraine to host the Euros.

Some pointed out that Johnson seemed to have forgotten about the UK and Ireland's joint hosting bid for Euro 2028, which was previously believed to be unchallenged before Russia and Turkey threw their hats into the ring. 

This came despite Johnson tweeting on Wednesday from his official account that "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," the tweet continued.

Attempting to clear this up, Johnson's official spokesperson said the PM "was making a moral point that aggressors such as Russia should not be given a platform on the international stage, 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," the spokesperson insisted.

Pushed on whether Johnson backed the UK and Ireland's bid, the spokesperson suggested reporters should "look at the full clip" while arguing "the question was posed in the context of Russia being awarded the championship."

"Yes," the spokesperson claimed, when asked directly if Johnson was aware of his country and Ireland's bid. 

As for Russia's hopes of hosting in either 2028 or 2032, the Russian Football Union (RFU) has reportedly been warned by UEFA that further sanctions could be forthcoming despite there being nothing to stop it from submitting a declaration of interest.

The Telegraph has claimed that UEFA is set to hold 'crisis talks' on how it should respond to the Russian bid.

The RFU defended its right to express an interest in hosting events after the highly-successful 2018 World Cup, with RFU Executive Committee member Rustem Saymanov saying: "We are open and ready, we should not be closed to UEFA and FIFA." 

“We've held lots of competitions at a high level… There’s a lot of time, the situation will change, we will study everything," Saymanov vowed.