What Does Football Show us About the EU Referendum?


When I hear people talking about the EU Referendum, the common theme seems to be the passion. People have strong feelings and they already have their mind made up as to whether it is best to leave or remain. This view occurs on both sides and this stubborn allegiance is not dissimilar to football.

As a Swindon Town fan, I could happily tell you that my team is better than yours because of the youthful team, the promising prospects, the passionate owner etc. but of course you know that your team is better than mine because you’ve won a couple more trophies in the last decade and you’ve got such a good manager. It doesn’t actually matter about the debate, because we both have such an instinctive dedication to our side. 

One of the biggest arguments of those campaigning for a ‘Brexit’ is how the EU ties us up and limits our freedom as a country. “Why should we be dictated to?” “It’s no longer useful so we should look elsewhere” – those sorts of arguments. Funnily enough this once again has a whiff of the footballing world about it. Imagine the reaction if we started saying that we wanted to leave UEFA because we want to have complete control of our football. “We’ll leave but they’ll let us stay in the Champions League because we’re actually really good and it wouldn’t be able to function without us.” Sound familiar? How about “We’re going to look elsewhere for our international football tournaments because we don’t like having to commit to a European tournament every 4 years.” Or “We’re going to go and set up our own tournament with some other countries every 5 years – they’ll definitely want us. Then we can come back and play in the Euros every so often, you know, when we fancy it.” It would be absolutely ridiculous. And you might think the same about this analogy, after all they are two different things – but the point remains: it is absolutely mad to think that we could just leave and then just make use of all the bits we want on entirely our own terms. People say we should base ourselves on the system of other countries like Switzerland or Norway. That’s one possibility…but how many champions league teams did they produce this season?

Let’s put the analogies aside but stick with football. Your team (maybe not mine, as a Swindon fan) make it to the Champions League and you and a few mates see it as a good excuse to pop over to Barcelona for the weekend. Imagine having to apply for a visa, just for a couple of nights in Spain! Ok, quite drastic, but what about other parts of your trip? Maybe your flights to Barcelona now cost more or maybe no longer even fly from your local airport so you have to navigate getting public transport to Luton at 3 in the morning. Experts say that the pound could go as low as €1.05 so that €200 spending money you take for the Estrella now comes to £190! Let’s say after one too many celebrating your team’s miraculous come back from 3-0 down, you end up having a bit of an accident – firstly it costs you more to look up a hospital on your phone because you’re no longer entitled to the reduced data costs and then you have to pay a greater excess when you claim for your stitches and cast on your insurance because you no longer have an EHIC card. Finally you decide to pick up a good few bottles of the local liqueur because it’s so cheap and you’ve got some space in your luggage but now you’re restricted with how much you can bring 

Imagine missing out on this...
Imagine missing out on this…

back. All of these situations have been avoided through membership of the EU and although it is not guaranteed that we would lose all of these benefits, it is certain that there would have to be long and likely tedious negotiations which could ultimately mean losing out on some or all of these benefits. Imagine your team beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou and you had to miss it because you couldn’t quite afford it. In my books, that’s not a risk worth taking.



Third year Modern Languages student currently on my year abroad in Potsdam, Germany.

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