SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell confirmed that, along with their counterparts in England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales, they have today submitted a joint ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) to host the 18th staging of the tournament in six years time and said that the move “represents our commitment to continuing the momentum of Scottish football and the Scotland National Teams on the European, international and world stage”.
But, they face unexpected competition from Turkey and Russia, who both registered their interest ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, although both have said they would be happy with either the 2028 or 2032 edition of UEFA’s flagship national team competition.
Turkey had previously expressed a desire but it was thought they had backed off. But it was Russia’s decision to throw their hat in the ring that proved the biggest surprise.
The 2018 World Cup hosts are currently banned from competing in international football by UEFA and FIFA following their invasion of Ukraine and several nations’ refusal to play them.
In a joint statement the five associations involved in the UK and Ireland bid said: “Football must do everything possible to show how our sport can be a force for good – now, more than ever. We are resolute in our belief in the power of football to help bring people together.”
Commenting on whether a Russian could even be considered, UEFA said: "The Bureau of the FIFA Council and the UEFA executive committee decided on February 28 to suspend all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice. However, no suspension of the Russian Football Union was imposed at that time.
"The UEFA Executive Committee will nevertheless remain on standby to convene further extraordinary meetings, on a regular ongoing basis where required - in addition to its already-scheduled meetings of April 7 and May 10 - to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary, including in light of the declaration of interest expressed by the Russian Football Union for hosting the UEFA EURO."
Although, UK and Ireland group will be disappointed not to be able to continue unopposed, they do remain favourites to get the nod, with the final submissions and vote due to take place in September 2023.
“It is an early milestone in our new strategic plan, The Power of Football, in aspiring to host major tournaments to showcase Scotland as a world-class football nation and venue, following the successful co-hosting of UEFA EURO 2020 at Hampden Park,” explained Maxwell.
“We will now work with UEFA, our fellow national associations, UK and Scottish Governments and local authorities to present an aspirational bid that will bring significant social and economic benefits to Scotland and to our national game.
“This, in turn, will help deliver on other ambitious objectives across the game and reinforce the power of Scottish football.”
Along with Hampden, Murrayfield has also been cited among possible venues.