Ireland and the UK's bid to host the Euro 2028 soccer championships has received a major boost after rival bidders Turkey confirmed that it has requested to merge with Italy to bid for the 2032 tournament.
Turkey is the sole competitor to a bid from Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but its decision to merge with Italy to bid for Euro 2032 means that it is unlikely to develop its 2028 bid any further.
UEFA said in a statement that it will assess the Italy-Turkey Euro 2032 bid to ensure that it conforms with the European soccer body's bidding criteria.
If the bid passes that assessment, it will be presented to UEFA's executive committee on October 10, when the committee will decide on the hosts of both Euro 2028 and Euro 2032.
The Ireland and UK bid has been the frontrunner for Euro 2028 ever since it was announced, long before Turkey's decision to merge with Italy to bid for Euro 2032.
The Ireland and UK bid focused on Euro 2028 after opting not to oppose Spain and Portugal to be UEFA's candidate to host the 2030 World Cup. The decision to shift focus from the 2030 World Cup to Euro 2028 received UEFA's approval.
The joint bid was confirmed in April, with English Football Association Chair Debbie Hewitt stating that a successful bid would mean a "record-breaking and unforgettable" European championships.
"We will focus on growing football, connecting with and engaging new fans, players, and volunteers," Hewitt said in April.
Two stadiums on the island of Ireland have been included in the bid, though notably absent is Dublin's Croke Park.
Dublin's Aviva Stadium, which was due to host games at the transcontinental Euro 2020 before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Belfast's Casement Park, which is yet to be redeveloped, are both included in the bid.
The Principality Stadium in Wales and Hampden Park in Scotland are also included in the bid, along with six stadiums in England.
It is not yet known if Ireland will automatically qualify for the 24-team tournament.
Hosts and co-hosts of European championships have qualified for the tournament in the past, but with the exception of the transcontinental Euro 2020, there have never been more than two countries hosting the same tournament.
The UK Independent reports that UEFA is exploring a number of options to solve the automatic qualification issue, including the possibility of a mini-tournament between the host nations before the start of Euro 2028.
It is highly unlikely that all five nations will qualify automatically.
The FAI has predicted that Euro 2028 will help generate €3 billion for the Irish economy.