UEFA to visit Belfast amid Euro 2028 funding row – source

A UEFA delegation will visit Belfast on Wednesday, a source has told ESPN, amid concerns over a funding row that has placed doubt over the re-construction of Casement Park, a venue scheduled to host five games at Euro 2028.

Great Britain and Ireland has been awarded the rights to host Euro 2028 with fixtures due to be staged in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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But a lack of progress in the project of rebuilding Casement Park — a Gaelic football venue that has been closed since 2013 — has prompted UEFA to undertake a technical visit to the Northern Irish capital in an effort to assess the prospect of the stadium being ready in time for the tournament in four years’ time.

If the stadium is not completed on time, UEFA will be forced to move the five fixtures to other host countries due to the lack of an alternative in Northern Ireland.

Windsor Park, the traditional host venue for Northern Ireland fixtures, will not stage games at Euro 2028 due to its limited capacity and the inability to further extend the stadium.

There is widespread opposition among Northern Ireland supporters over the decision to award games to Casement Park — the stadium is named after Irish revolutionary Roger Casement — due to the venue being located in the traditional Nationalist area of west Belfast. Windsor Park is based in Belfast’s traditional Unionist area.

The project has been given the backing of all political parties in the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic due to the perceived cross-community benefits, but costs have now spiralled to an estimated £200 million ($253m) and a wait for a decision by the British government in terms of funding has left the construction programme on hold.

UEFA will meet senior figures in Belfast on Wednesday including First Minister Michelle O’Neill and also visit Casement Park to gain a clearer picture of the situation.