New Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood says it would be a major coup for Northern Ireland if the United Kingdom and Ireland are awarded the FIFA World Cup in 2030.
Feasibility studies by the UK and Irish governments, including the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are already underway.
And it is hoped the ambitious proposal will end up competing with the likes of Spain and Portugal and Morocco when the formal bidding process begins next year.
According to current FIFA criteria, Windsor Park, which holds 18,000 fans, is too small to host a World Cup game, with a minimum capacity of 40,000 required for the finals.
A redeveloped Casement Park in West Belfast, with a projected capacity of 34,500, would also fall short of the established threshold.
However, hopes remain high that Northern Ireland, who last played in a World Cup in 1986, can play a key role, with Kirkwood branding it a “fabulous opportunity”.
The IFA president, who succeeded David Martin in June, said: “We are part of a five nations bid and it’s at the feasibility stage with support from the UK government.
“I think it’s a fabulous opportunity to be a part of something special.
“A lot of hard work is still needed to get the feasibility study in the right place and I think we can put forward a very strong bid.”
The 2030 tournament will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and the joint UK and Ireland bid would be the first initiated by five football nations.
It would be uncharted territory to have five host teams, although USA, Mexico and Canada are hosting an expanded 48-team tournament in 2026.
The 2026 tournament is the first to feature three host nations, with the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan the last to involve two hosts.
With so many variables and hypotheticals in play – and the formal bidding process yet to begin – it stands to reason that the Irish FA is circumspect in its public utterances.
In short, it’s impossible to offer certainties about a bid that has yet to take shape.
“We will continue to undertake feasibility work to assess the viability of a bid before FIFA formally opens the process in 2022,” said Kirkwood.
“Staging a FIFA World Cup would provide an incredible opportunity to deliver tangible benefits for our nations.
“If a decision is made to bid for the event, we look forward to presenting our hosting proposals to FIFA and the wider global football community.”
Meanwhile, the new Irish FA president says a new National Training Centre for Northern Ireland “remains a priority” in the association’s new strategy moving forward.
The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park has a 18,000 capacity
As far back as 2012, the IFA said one of its aims was to “create a flagship National Training Centre to support the cream of footballing ability in Northern Ireland”.
Kirkwood said: “I’ve been talking to managers and they all feel a National Training Centre is a priority for them.
“It will be a big part of what we do moving forward when the money we are looking for is forthcoming from the government.”
It is hoped the long-awaited sub regional sports stadia funding – worth £36m – will eventually be released by the Department for Communities.
“We would like that money to be made available as soon as possible – the game is crying out for the money,” said Kirkwood.
“I think in terms of us working with the government, we will be pushing them hard to get the £36m and try to persuade them to give us more if they can.”