Euro 2028: will all five host nations automatically qualify? Reaction as UK and Ireland win bid for tournament

The UK and Ireland have been successful in their bid to host Euro 2028

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UEFA have confirmed that the UK and Ireland will host Euro 2028 after the bid to stage the tournament was pitched unopposed. A total of 10 stadiums have been chosen for the event, including six grounds from England and one from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales.

England has previously hosted the tournament solely in Euro 1996 and on that occasion they gained an automatic place in the tournament as the host nation. However, the Three Lions and Scotland were both forced to qualify for Euro 2020 as London and Glasgow hosted a number of games alongside nine other European cities in a special event which celebrated the 60th anniversary of the competition.

But will the host nations be guaranteed a place at Euro 2028 or will they be forced to battle for their spot through the qualification route? Here’s all you need to know.

Will the host nations automatically qualify for Euro 2028?

England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will all be involved in the Euro 2028 qualifiers. The qualification stages of the competition typically take place a year before the tournament from March until November. Euro 2024 qualifiers for example began in March 2023 and run until November 2023 with the final play-off games taking place in March 2024.

England have an excellent record in terms of qualification and they have only missed out on the European Championships on one occasion since 1984. This came in 2008 when Steve McLaren was famously sacked from his role as England boss. The other four hosts have had much more difficult time in the qualifiers in recent years.

Northern Ireland have only reached one European Championship in their history back in 2016. Wales’ only two appearances in the competition have come since it was expanded to a 24-team tournament in 2016 and 2020. Scotland’s qualification for Euro 2020 was their first for any major tournament since 1998 and only the third Euros in their history after appearances in 1996 and 1992.

The Republic of Ireland have also made three appearances in the Euros (1988,2012 and 2016) but they have had a drought of eight years without playing at a major tournament.

What’s been said?

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has welcomed the idea of entering the tournament at the qualification stages. He said: “From our point of view (England), it’s great to be taking part in qualifying and we want to get everyone (all five nations) there. "

"It is better to play in a tournament where it matters and we have competitive games. We’re looking forward to that. It’s always been part of our discussions with the other countries and UEFA that we would take part in qualifying. We think with the new format of European football that’s the right thing to do."

How will qualification work for Euro 2028?

All five host nations will enter the tournament at the usual qualification stages but reports suggest that UEFA are reportedly planning to reserve two spots for the best performing nations which fail to qualify for the tournament. This means to a minimum of two of the five nations will qualify for the tournament itself even if all five fail to secure qualification ahead of the 2028 tournament.

If England and Scotland for example were to secure qualification through the normal route - the top two performing teams out of the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland would earn a spot at the tournament. All five nations would get a spot at Euro 2028 if three nations earned qualification through the normal route. The draw for the Euro 2028 qualifiers is likely to take place in October 2026 if it follows a similar pattern to previous editions of the competition.

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