Outside the Box: Wales tackle England for Under-21 games

Having failed humiliatingly with their bid for the 2018 World Cup, the Football Association will discover this week the fate of a rather lower-profile campaign for the Uefa Under-21 finals to take place in the summer of 2013.

Intriguingly, Wales are among the four other countries in contention, along with Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Israel. As Uefa prefer a tightly-knit geographical tournament, the FA have put forward Derby County, the two Nottingham grounds, Chesterfield and Shrewsbury as venues. Wales would use Cardiff City, Swansea City, Llanelli RFC and Newport County and are particularly keen for the prestige and funds associated with staging an international tournament (see below).

It would suit England well to win as they would not have to qualify and could use next season under Stuart Pearce as preparation for the Olympic football tournament with an Under-23 side.

Queuing up to host the ladies

What scope there will be for shenanigans at the start of March when Sepp Blatter and his much-maligned Fifa executive committee announce the venues for no fewer than seven tournaments. Four of them are youth competitions – the World Cups of 2013 and 2015 at Under-17 and Under-20 level – and three are women's events, including the 2015 World Cup for which Canada and Zimbabwe are bidding.

Wales, alone of the home countries, are among 14 different bidders for the various events, in their case the two youth World Cups of 2015. They are up against Chile, Tunisia and Russia for the first; New Zealand, Peru and Tunisia in the older age-group. The most sought-after event, however, is the other women's event, the Under-17 World Cup of 2014, with six bidders: Costa Rica, Ghana, Macedonia, Russia, UAE and Uzbekistan.

Uruguay to stage 2030 finals?

With the venues for 2018 and 2022 settled, even longer-term planning is kicking in. Canada are considering a bid for the 2026 World Cup and there is discussion too about the centenary tournament of 2030, which Uruguay, the hosts in 1930, have expressed an interest in staging.

They could have rivals from Asia, as last week the Association of South-East Asian Nations raised the possibility of a joint bid that could involve any number of their members. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have jointly staged the Asian Cup in the past and Indonesia were contenders for 2022 until withdrawing before the vote. Once the hosts are decided, to-ing and fro-ing about how many entries each confederation receives can begin.

The ubiquitous Jack Warner, Concacaf president, wants an extra place for the region at Brazil in 2014 because of their performances "on the field and off it". At present the north and central American region has three places plus one play-off, but they want four.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; www.twitter.com/@stevetongue

Comments