Scottish Election 2021: Ross supports bid for 2030 World Cup to come to Scotland

Scottish Conservative leader, and part-time football referee, Douglas Ross has backed a plan to bring the 2030 World Cup to the UK saying Hampden would be the perfect venue for the final – though he would be unlikely to be running the line.

Assistant referee and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross wants to bring the World Cup final to Scotland.

Mr Ross said he believed hosting the international event in Scotland would be a major boost to the nation’s mental health after the Covid pandemic, as he outlined his party’s plans for supporting sport and mental health in the next parliamentary term.

A joint bid from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland to host the four-yearly tournament has already received support from the UK government, with Boris Johnson saying it is the "right time" to "bring football home".

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Mr Ross said that backing the World Cup bid would be part of the development of a “2030 strategy for grassroots football” by the Conservatives.

"Football is woven into the fabric of Scottish society and plays a vital role in every community,” he said. "It would be great for Scotland to host such a showpiece event. I’ve been fortunate to be at a number of national finals and Hampden is a great venue when it’s full, but to see the World Cup final at Hampden would be very special. And who knows, if the men’s team keep qualifying for major tournaments there’s also a chance the Scotland team might be there.”

Asked if he would like to officiate such a match, he said: “First of all we have to get the competition and then the final in Hampden… but that decision is taken by people way beyond my grade in refereeing so I can't imagine I’d be officiating at that but it would be great for Scotland to host.”

He said he had memories of attending the 2007 UEFA Cup Final at the ground with his dad, and in particular remembers the refereeing of Massimo Busacca. "Hampden has shown it can host major international events, and it would be a great venue to host the World Cup final as well.”

Mr Ross revealed that his party would double SportScotland’s £32m funding over the course of the next Parliament to support elite and grassroots sport, especially to have children in more disadvantaged areas discover a sport they like.

"We want to encourage people into sport, to try sport… they might take up football but find they have a greater interest in athletics. Directing resources at grassroots level allows people to choose a sport they’re interested in, develop skills and then go on. I don’t under-estimate the challenge.

“It is expensive to get into some sports, not football necessarily, as but golf clubs are expensive, tennis rackets, there are different costs… but we need to encourage people in, and then look at the challenge of how expensive or otherwise it is once they’re in a sport which improves their physical and mental health.”

The reopening of gyms and community leisure facilities was also vital he said to protect people’s physical and mental health and that schools should also be encouraged to open their facilities to the general public, and his party would invest an additional £1 million to enable that to happen.

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