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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Should Brexit Influence which Countries Play in Euro Cup 2020?

With the decision now determined from voters of the United Kingdom to move away from the European Union (EU) member state alliance, does it mean that the UK areas, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (Gibraltar is included, as well) should be disallowed from competition in UEFA (Union of European Football Association)?

Surely, the most prevailing answer is "No" from world soccer fans. This is mainly due to the close history the UK has had with UEFA. It would almost seem silly to think of UEFA without the UK. Purists or traditionalists wouldn't even consider the issue because of the blinders they have on. I mean, how could anyone ever consider kicking the UK out of UEFA when the sport was invented and built up there for more than a century and a half? In fact, these are the only four areas of the world along with delegates of FIFA that board the IFAB governance for the rules of the game.

In my opinion, the issue to boot the UK from UEFA deserves a deeper discussion for sure. Most casual soccer fans don't associate politics with soccer, yet us fervent ones know there is plenty of world politics taking place in the world's most popular game. It would be naive to think otherwise.

FIFA is one of the main catalysts for how countries around the world interact with each other. There is evidence of this in all of the international tournaments, including the World Cup qualifying process. FIFA, without making too much political noise, determines which member association each country is placed into and thus which countries make up the competitions. It might be that the member associations send out the invitations, but FIFA is the ultimate entity in charge of all the member associations.

According to FIFA, geography can be a strange phenomenon when it comes to which confederation countries belong to. Just ask Australia, which plays in the Asian bracket, instead of Oceania, which has New Zealand.

For many, the argument to keep the UK in UEFA would mostly center around geography. And, of course, geography counts. It's better to play countries in the same region, in terms of costs and country morale. But, there has to be more consideration towards already achieved financial/economic treaties, like the EU member state alliance.

Shouldn't FIFA take responsibility to support and respect economies of the world? This to me is the most important question, especially when we consider that FIFA only works as well as it does because there are enough financially vibrant economies in the world to support the sport of soccer. All the money contributing to the sport is what has kept it evolving while at the same time-staying the 'beautiful game.' This can't be taken for granted.

And, without the money coming from all of these millions of middle class people in the world, soccer would be a far less potent political force. For obvious financial/economic country alliances, FIFA should take a backseat and show respect. The EU is an example of how economic alliances can work for the benefits of the many, while at the same time, forging alliances that will fight terrorism collectively. The EU is a vital, strategically arranged alliance that is bringing cultures together for common causes.

Geography as a requisite for why the UK should be included in UEFA is not a good enough reason any longer. FIFA needs to look deeper into itself for its purpose in the world. It can no longer justify the arbitrary grouping of countries to compete against each other. Perhaps it is best to let the EU state member alliance countries form their own confederation and tournament and let the remaining non-members form their own soccer confederation.

As it stands now, Russia is not an EU member state and many other countries participating in UEFA join them and the UK. The others are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine. Some of these countries have applied for EU status or have aspirations to eventually become members, but are not yet members.

Let Russia and the UK take the helm on forming its own confederation and see how that ends up. There are consequences for not being part of the whole. Russia and the UK need to learn their lesson, if only FIFA could wise up. 2020 is a pan-European style Euro Cup with many hosting sites in various countries. London is one of the hosting sites, but maybe the privilege of hosting and participating should be taken away.

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