Can the Three Lions Dictate the EU Decision?

07/06/2016 12:03 | Updated 07 June 2016


It's a big summer for England. Not only are the European Championships and the Olympics overtaking the sporting calendar, but the country must decide whether it wishes to be part of the European Union. You'd think that neither really correlate with each other, but dig a little deeper, and a successful England team could change the way football supporters vote.

When the referendum takes place all England's group games will have been completed, and the Three Lions will either be a matter of days away from the Round of 16, or will be on their way home early, just as they were two years ago.

At the moment, there's a renewed optimism that England will be successful this time round. They have a young, enthusiastic, and overall, talented side and the chances are the entire nation could be riding a high come July 23rd.

Migration: A Hot Topic

One of the main issues in the EU debate is the current migrant crisis. We've seen the Refugees Welcome campaign, pro-migration marches, and the complete other end of the spectrum, with poll trends suggesting it's pretty neck and neck.

Naturally, migration has been happening for decades, and that reflects into the beautiful game too. Since the late 1800s players born outside the country have been representing England. During the 1950s Bill Perry represented the country, despite being born in South Africa. By the 1960s tens of thousands of Jamaicans were settling in the UK, creating new communities, which is now well into its third and fourth generation.

By the 80s, the likes of Viv Anderson, John Barnes, and Luther Blissett were starting to break into the England side, all having Jamaican heritage, and creating a pathway for generations ahead to do the same. Today, 12 members of England's Euro 2016 squad could have originally played for another nation before being capped by the country, including captain and all-time record scorer Wayne Rooney and Premier League top scorer Harry Kane, who both have Irish roots.

In fact, football wouldn't be the same without migration. In terms of international football, Euro 2016 is the most diverse of all-time. Almost a third of players taking part in the tournament could have played elsewhere according to the Multicultural Championship, while the Premier League could be an entirely different competition if Britain exits the EU.

A study by the BBC showed that over 100 Premier League players could be affected by the Brexit including the likes of N'Golo Kante, David de Gea, and Juan Mata, with Rachel Anderson telling the corporation, "Leaving the EU will have a much bigger effect on football than people think. We're talking about half of the Premier League needing work permits."

How Could England Make A Difference?

Football, in fact sport as a whole, and politics go hand-in-hand. It may not seem it but the outcome of an event can sway voters. Back in 1970 the general election took place just days after England were knocked out of the World Cup by West Germany. The entire country felt let down, and for many they looked for something new, that being a new government.

When Barry McGuigan was boxing during the height of The Troubles, he acted as peacemaker. Both Catholics and the Protestants joined as one to support the former WBA featherweight champion and, as a result, little trouble happened on the streets of Belfast.

Sport can influence. And with over half the England squad having some form of foreign ancestry, a successful tournament may persuade fans to stay in. There will be a belief that as a proud footballing nation, they're stronger together.

What's more, if England, Wales, or Northern Ireland win their group, the joy could resonate into feeling good being part of Europe. Lose of course, and that changes the mood. Nothing does this quite like football. You can guarantee that the English national team will have a say on how people vote come June 23, win, lose, or draw.