So what would a United Kingdom 2030 World Cup Bid look like?
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has announced that England could be bidding for the 2030 World Cup.
He revealed: “The English FA board agreed to conduct feasibility work into the possibility of putting itself forward to be UEFA’s potential candidate to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.” He added that work will be carried out during the current football season with a final decision on whether or not to bid made in 2019.
The FA had always said they had no interest in bidding for any of FIFA’s tournaments while Seb Blatter was involved. Seb lost his power in the football world in 2015 and that appears to have opened the door. The FA is already in the running to host the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 competition. But a 2030 World Cup bid would try to secure the first men’s international football tournament staged in Britain since the 1996 European Championships. Two previous attempts to host football’s showpiece failed miserably with the FA losing out to Germany in 2006 and then Russia in 2018.
However, thinking has changed within FIFA. There is now a leaning towards multi-host tournaments with the 2026 World Cup awarded to the US, Canada & Mexico beating a sole bid by Morocco. A joint bid wins out through a reduction in the need for white elephant stadiums especially with the World Cup format being extended to 48 teams involved in 80 games. The first multi-nation bid was created in 2002 when Japan co-hosted with South Korea. FIFA instigated the format combining individual bids from Japan and South Korea and dismissing a single site bid from Mexico. But then as quickly as the format arrived it disappeared with multi-host tournaments seemingly out of favour. The idea re-surfaced with Euro 2012 hosted in Poland and Ukraine. But the most ambitious co-hosting event is set to be Euro 2020 which marks the tournament’s 60th birthday. It will be staged in no less than 12 European countries and will allow smaller nations the rare opportunity of hosting a major competition.
Branding a multi-nation bid & competition
But how do you represent two or more separate nations under a single, identifiable, unifying mark? Branding a single country event is far easier. You utilise a nation’s icons, its history, or its culture to create a logo that announces what and where. Throw together two or more separate nations and you are presented with a different task altogether. You pretty much have to ignore the nations and create something totally new.
Let’s take a look at previous attempts:
2002 FIFA World Cup Korea & Japan
Looking at the 2002 logo doesn’t immediately conjure a vision of Japan or South Korea. They gave us a circular logo created by the Interbrand Company in London with help from its offices in Tokyo and Seoul. It was the first time the logo focussed on the FIFA World Cup trophy. The logo was created to build on the artistic principles of South Korea and Japan with the circular form relevant to Asian cultures and symbolising the universe, the sun and life.
Looking back, the logo seems to be of its time. But to me, it always felt like a dancer and quite removed from the game of football. You can make out the trophy shape but it’s quite abstract. The use of an infinite loop in the two zeros of 2002 was a really nice touch but for me, there were far too many different typefaces, far too much going on. We score the logo 6 out of 10.
Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine
In 2012, Portuguese group Brandia Central gave us the branding for a tournament hosted by Poland and Ukraine. The logo showed the stalk of a flower with three branches. A ball was depicted around the central flower, with the left flower being red and white (the colours of Poland’s flag); and the right flower being yellow and blue (the colours of Ukraine’s flag). It took its visual lead from ‘wycinanka,’ the traditional art of paper cutting practised in rural areas of Poland and Ukraine. Unity was also highlighted with the strapline ‘Creating History Together’ proving that the logo alone was not enough and that a strong and imaginative strapline was needed. We really liked the concept of this logo. While the imagery of the two nations is minimal through the two flowers in the colours of the host nations’ flags, the notion of something organic growing and uniting was a breath of fresh air. We score the logo 8 out of 10.
Combining two nations is tough enough, but the 2020 tournament spans 12 European nations! They have come up with a very interesting brand based on connection and unity. Their theme revolves around bridges as they connect people as does football. It’s a clever concept as European cities have a plethora of iconic bridges which are used in animations and branding for the host cities. The logo, however, is less inspiring. It is made up of three elements – the trophy, the fans and the bridge. I’m looking forward to seeing how the branding plays out with graphics of footballs bouncing across Europe, travelling along roads, and over bridges in a fun and colourful style. But as for the logo – must try harder. We score the logo 4 out of 10, but the branding 9 out of 10 on the basis it is saved in the dying second with a great goal.
2026 FIFA World Cup USA, Canada & Mexico Bid Logo
The bid logo for 2026 is pretty uninspiring. Made up of a ribbon forming the number 26 it blends from green, red and blue – presumably a colour for each of the hosts. Colour is always a great way to highlight different nations. Poland and Ukraine did it successfully in 2012 but here the logo looked pretty sloppy. I was a massive fan of the USA 94 World Cup logo mixing the stars and stripes with a football replacing the stars. It instantly represented the country and the event and showed how much easier it is to visualise just one host. The name for the 2026 bid is a lot more successful though – United 2026 says it all. We score the logo 2 out of 10. Pretty much an own goal.
2030 FIFA World Cup Uraguay, Argentina & Paraguay Bid Logo
In 2017, Uruguay which hosted the first tournament in 1930, announced its intention to bid for the 100th birthday competition by linking with Argentina and Paraguay. Originally just Uraguay and Argentina, Paraguay was late to the party. But again a logo has been created utilising colour to represent the three hosts with lines converging to form a football shape making everyone aware they want to be the hosts of the 100-year competition. It’s a pleasant, simple logo but we don’t know if moving forward it will stay the same. The South Americans are early into the race and only time will tell. We score the logo 7 out of 10. No sign of the hand of god thankfully.
Learning from mistakes in 2030
And so to the 2030 tournament. A sole England bid has, on numerous occasions, spectacularly failed to inspire FIFA for whatever reason. So why go for England 2030 and have to ditch all that negative baggage? Why not make it UK 2030 and include Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? The Northern Ireland FA has already said it would relish the idea, allowing them to hold a tournament on their soil that they never dreamed of hosting. A joint bid could bring the nations together internally, building ties and telling the world that we are convivial friends and neighbours. A joint bid by four nations that are actually linked is a very different and unique proposal than previous joint bids. UK 2030 would be up against strong competition from the Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay 100th anniversary bid. Theirs is a strong idea but Athens lost the 100th Anniversary Olympics to Atlanta in 1996 and had to wait until 2004 so it’s not a guaranteed win. Another contender could be 2026 losers Morocco aligning with Algeria and Tunisia. It looks very much like that the 2030 competition could be all about joint bids.
So what would a United Kingdom 2030 logo draw on to set out its stall? We are in a strong position through the union flag – a mash-up of the nation’s separate flags. That would be the sensible starting point. Lots of British sporting bodies already use iterations of the flag to create quite dynamic logos. The colours of red, white and blue could be merged with green for Wales as the nation isn’t represented on the Union flag. Maybe the nation’s flowers could be used some way although the Euro 2012 logo has already gone down that route. We could also utilise a map of the nations as that is easily recognizable. And what do we call it – is it UK2030 or United 2030? Someone has already done that but it is a strong football reference with numerous United teams around the world.
It’s a similar problem when two companies merge. At that point does the logo of company one remain or do you bastardise the two logos. Alternatively, you can create a new logo relevant to and drawing from both companies. We are yet to work on a branding project like that but the challenge would be an exciting one.
All we can do is wait and see. A UK 2030 bid isn’t even official, it may still be an England 2030 bid. I think if the bid is to be successful the FA needs to drop its perceived arrogance. Being more inclusive could pay dividends. The score would certainly suggest a winner.
England 1 – 4 England/Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland