FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill said investment in Irish football facilities and hosting Euro 2028 "don’t need to be mutually exclusive" ©Getty Images

Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive Jonathan Hill has claimed that staging the men's UEFA Euro 2028 could spur an increase in Government funding.

Ireland's bid to stage the men's European Championship in six years' time alongside England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland drew some domestic criticism.

Critics had suggested the FAI should focus on investing in Irish football infrastructure, which men's national team head coach Stephen Kenny conceded is "way behind" much of Europe.

The Irish Examiner has reported that the FAI is €65 million (£54.7 million/$69.7 million) in debt.

However, Kenny also said last month that staging Euro 2028 would not interfere with the FAI's published strategy for 2022 to 2025.

Hill, who succeeded John Delaney in November 2020, went further in expressing hope that Euro 2028 could make football a more attractive investment for the Irish Government.

The chief executive suggested that funding could match that of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), which according to the BBC received €30 million (£25.3 million/$32.1 million) last year.

"Facilities became a real talking point when we announced our part of the hosting joint bid with the UK federations for Euro 2028," Hill told Cork 96FM, as reported by the Irish Examiner.

"There are certain people who said how could we do that when we don’t have the facilities within our own grounds, not fit for purpose toilets and we can’t get families to come along.

"I accept all of that but my point was that the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill is hopeful that Euro 2028 will help to secure
FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill is hopeful that Euro 2028 will help to secure "closer to the amount of investment" that goes into the Gaelic Athletic Association ©Getty Images

"If we were part of a successful Euro 2028 hosting, that would allow us to go to the Government in particular to say if this is to really work and have a long-term effect, then we need the facilities to reflect what we’re trying to do.

"I’m not saying Cobh will host a Euros game - because they won’t - but we can use that to persuade the Government of investing more into football, which I see as the number one sport in Ireland.

"If we can get closer to the amount of investment that goes into the GAA, to have more like parity which would be much fairer than the current situation, I’d be really happy.

"If we get the academy rights, facilities and right number of people employed, we’re more likely to see another Roy Keane or Stephen Ireland coming through.

"It’s about having more full-time people within full-time roles, be they secretaries, chief executives or groundsmen.

"That will drive us towards being the industry that we want football to become."

The joint United Kingdom and Ireland bid for Euro 2028 faces competition from Turkey, and surprisingly Russia despite the country's clubs and national teams being banned from all UEFA and FIFA events.

The Aviva Stadium in Dublin was due to host matches at Euro 2020 under UEFA's controversial multi-nation format, but was dropped as a venue because of a failure to provide assurances that COVID-19 restrictions would not prevent spectators from attending.

GAA headquarters Croke Park, also in Dublin is considered the only other stadium in Ireland likely to host matches should the Euro 2028 bid be successful.