The city of Dublin is set to benefit from the announcement that the 2028 UEFA European Championships is to be hosted by the five football associations of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
🇬🇧➕🇮🇪 CONFIRMED: #EURO2028 will take place in the UK and Republic of Ireland!
Proposed venues include Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, Liverpool, London (x2) Manchester and Newcastle.
Congratulations to our confirmed hosts! pic.twitter.com/elnLbjWgam
— UEFA (@UEFA) October 10, 2023
But will Ireland make it to the finals of their competition? As things stand, UEFA is offering two automatic places to the five football associations. All five countries will be invited to play in the qualifying process, in the hope that at least three will qualify. But if three or more don’t automatically make it to the competition on their own merit, their participation in the tournament remains unclear.
How is the Republic of Ireland currently getting on?
A good marker to test where the Irish team is at can be found in their current form for Euro 2024 qualifying, and it’s not good. The Republic of Ireland is already out. In the betting to win Euro 2024, England are the 4/1 favourites in the latest football odds, with France at 9/2. The betting online is currently favouring the teams who have already secured their places at Euro 2024 in Germany next year.
The European qualification process is difficult
The second favourite to win Euro 2024 is France, with the Netherlands at 14/1. Along with Greece, the French and Dutch have all contributed to knocking Stephen Kenny’s team out of Euro 2024.
“Criticism is part of it and I have to accept it tonight. We wanted it to be better than it was.”
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 16, 2023
Qualifying out of a group with France and the Netherlands would be a difficult task for any nation. But this is the quality of teams that Ireland will need to be beating if they are to secure a place at their party in 2028.
In recent years Wales, and now Scotland, have shown it is possible. The Republic of Ireland also qualified for the European Championships in 2016, so the country knows they can do it. But with Ireland guaranteed to face at least one of Europe’s elite nations in their qualifying group, they know they can’t afford too many mistakes if second place is all that’s left to play for in the group.
Will UEFA move the goalposts for qualification?
Another possible route for the Republic of Ireland to qualify is that UEFA could move the goalposts in the qualifying process.
Ahead of the 2020 Euro finals, the Nations League provided an alternative route, which Scotland benefited from. This could be a possible route into Euro 2028.
Another possibility is that UEFA tinker with automatic places. At the moment, it stands at two. England are likely to qualify by themselves. And if Scotland can keep on improving, they may also qualify automatically. There is still a long way to go, and UEFA won’t want any of the five home nations not to be present. So there is always the possibility that if two nations look likely to qualify independently, the rules might be adjusted to offer three automatic places instead of two.
Ireland’s destiny is still in their own hands
Qualifying for the 2026 World Cup will be starting in the autumn of 2024, with qualification for Euro 2028 starting in the autumn of 2026.
The 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign will be Ireland’s last chance to be ready for the Euro 2028 qualifiers. Time is still on the Republic of Ireland’s side. But it won’t be for much longer.