IRELAND'S joint-bid with the UK to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup has been strengthened following the success of Euro 2020 this summer.
A significant proportion of the matches took place at Wembley Stadium in London, and it's understood that FIFA have been impressed by the manner in which the event was organised and managed in England.
Ireland may have lost its hosting privileges for the tournament, after the government failed to guarantee fan attendance due to Covid-19 fears, but the strength of the joint-bid remains intact thanks to Euro 2020.
Despite the success, there were ugly scenes in and around Wembley for Sunday's final. Metropolitan Police confirmed that 49 people connected with the match were arrested and 19 officers were injured.
A number of England supporters reportedly broke through security and stormed into the stadium without a ticket, but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar sees no reason why the behaviour of a small minority should deter Ireland in their bid to host the World Cup in nine years' time.
"I'm 100% behind that bid. I'm really encouraged by it and very keen that Ireland should be part of that," he said.
"I think England’s team is a tribute to their nation. Unfortunately, some of their supporters are not. We saw the violence and bad behaviour."
Asked if the scenes made him reconsider the joint World Cup bid, Varadkar replied: "I don't think so, no."
He added: "It’s a minority and I don’t think we should ever try to tar a whole nation or a whole set of fans or support, just based on the behaviour of what I believe was a minority."
England were beaten 3-2 on penalties by Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday. It was the first major final the Three Lions had reached since 1966.
In spite of his earlier praise, Mr Varadkar called out sections of the England fan-base for booing Italy's national anthem prior to kick-off, as well as for racially abusing Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who missed their spot-kicks in the shootout.
"Certainly I would say to anyone who’s engaging in any form of abuse online that that’s really unacceptable," said the Fine Gael leader, who has suffered his fair share of racial abuse online.
"And certainly I’d be saying to the tech companies that they have a responsibility not to promote and to take down anything of a racist nature in that regard.
"I haven't contacted them yet about it, but it’s the type of message I would happily make public here."
Ireland's joint-bid with the UK would see games spread out across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland as well as the Republic.
Spain and Portugal are expected to launch a rival joint-bid to host the tournament, while it's understood that Romania, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria will be teaming up to do the same.
There will also likely be bids from Africa, South America and Asia.
The bidding process won't officially be launched until 2022, and a final decision won't be made until 2024, but hopes are high amongst Irish and British politicians that their joint-bid remains the strongest.