EU referendum & Euro 2016

Footy& Europe

So far it’s fair to say that EU referendum debate hasn’t inspired many. Both sides have often been accused of ‘scaremongering’ over the potential impacts on everything from immigration to border controls and increased terror threats to the price of a nice bottle of wine.

Meanwhile many of us across the UK and Ireland have our minds fixed on another great European project, the European Football Championship. The unbridled optimism of plucky fans and the motto “Dare to dream” seem a long way from what’s often labelled “Project Fear”. Although I almost always want to keep politics and sport separate, examining how the two might be related is worth looking at. To many the EU isn’t very good at laying-out grand visions or dreams but its strength lies in making life easier for ordinary people going-about their ordinary business.

Of course, no-one can ever suggest that EU membership was in some way responsible for Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or any other team, qualifying for this summer’s tournament in France. There have been 10 tournaments since the UK joined in which Northern Ireland have failed to qualify. There is no correlation between being in the EU and international footballing success, as any die-hard Luxembourg fan will tell you.
However, if you’re one of the thousands of fans travelling to see any of the games who will also have to vote on EU membership in the middle of the tournament, it’s worth considering if the EU has made getting there easier as a travelling supporter.

1.Getting in:
You can certainly get to France without a visa if you travel from the UK and Ireland, but you will need a passport. It’s of course unclear whether or not that would change if the UK left, new agreements would need to be struck. Football fans travelling from the UK to Brazil for the 2014 world cup didn’t face many restrictions either, but wait and see how difficult it’ll be at the World Cup in Russia in 2018!

2.Getting there cheaper:
There’s no doubt about it, the EU has resulted in cheaper flights. The EU Open-Skies Treaty of 1992 blew the lid off the system that had restricted national air-space from competition to ‘flag-carriers’ and since then Ryanair, Easyjet and others have brought European integration of one kind of another to many corners of Europe. Airlines now fly where they wish in the EU without government approval. The EU has also increased passenger safety standards and guaranteed your rights if your flight is cancelled or delayed too long. There are also measures in place to ensure safer travel by ferry and rail.

3.Getting your Match tickets
Given the sponsorship of the tournament by Visa card all 800,000 Euro 2016 tickets have to be bought using a credit card. The EU’s single area payment area has meant that these are all guaranteed, anywhere in the EU (or indeed some participating states outside the EU).

4.Getting somewhere to stay
The EU has also made hotels safer as a directive passed back on 1986 defines minimum safety standards in hotels and serves as a basis for common safety rules throughout the EU.

5.Getting things while you’re there
Thanks to the free movement of goods, you can bring or bring back pretty much anything you want from France, so no excuses for fans not bringing back presents for their Mums! Obviously some restrictions and rules apply for dodgy stuff.

6.Getting help when you’re over there
You can always call the British embassy or consulate for certain kinds of assistance when travelling but the EU has made things easier to get help when abroad. If you have a European Health Insurance Card you can now get access to free medical treatment while you’re in France.

7.Calling home
While the mobile phones will undoubtedly be used to take plenty of selfies (some unionist politicians in the crowd are probably thinking about their next election) some fans will probably want to use them to make some calls. The EU has since 2007 been trying to bring down the costs of using your phone when abroad. One of the undoubted benefits of EU membership has been that constant reduction of roaming costs when travelling abroad. To place a call inside the EU is currently no more than €0.05 per minute, as of June 2017 it will be abolished altogether.

Will all these go if we vote to leave? It’s not certain, new agreements would have to be written and enforced. The travel agent body ABTA concluded that

“The UK travelling consumer could be faced with increased costs if an exit vote led to a sustained deterioration in the value of sterling, making foreign currency destinations more expensive in sterling. Consumers would also need to cover any additional health insurance costs, should the UK exit the European Health Insurance Card scheme.”

I sometimes wonder if David Cameron deliberately chose to hold the referendum on 23 June as it’s slap-bang in the middle of the tournament, but a day when there are no matches to be played so as to distract the voting public.

The argument continue over whether the EU, NATO or the US has kept the peace in Europe since 1945, No-one can easily argue that it was the EU alone. But one thing is for sure the EU has made the peace more profitable and easier for the consumer and the holidaymaker, and the travelling football fan whichever ever team they’re following.

  • terence patrick hewett

    It is quite self-evident that Europe will never be truly civilised and understand the concept of liberal democracy until they learn to play Cricket: Soccer simply appeals to the baser insincts of which FIFA so amply illustrates. Only until they learn to appreciate the poetry of Ranjitsinhji and the insanity of C B Fry will they be fit for decent company.

  • Declan Doyle

    That sort of sums it up really doesn’t it? There are many examples of where membership of the EU have been beneficial to Europeans and UK citizens, in ways that are not always obvious to the naked political eye. It also sums up the choice; do you want to be part of a broader European Identity or not?

  • hgreen

    You seem to have forgotten to include a pic of a ROI player. I’m sure this was just an oversight.

  • terence patrick hewett

    You don’t really believe all that stuff do you Declan? Because the Germans don’t and the French don’t and certainly the cynical Italians don’t: it’s just bread and circuses for the control of the gullible.

    One can only compare it to Tacitus’ cynical observation in his Life of Agricola concerning the Romanisation of British tribal leadership: Book 1 paragraph 21

    “Inde etiam habitus nostri honor et frequens toga; paulatimque discessum ad delenimenta vitiorum, porticus et balinea et conviviorum elegantiam. Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset.

    “Hence, too, a liking sprang up for our style of dress, and the toga became fashionable. Step by step they were led to things which dispose to vice, the lounge, the bath, the elegant banquet. All this in their ignorance, they called civilization, when it was but a part of their servitude”

  • Anglo-Irish

    As a Yorkshireman I enjoyed playing cricket in my youth, but as a game to watch the only good thing about it is that the bar is open.

    I remember taking my uncle Tom a Clareman to watch the Blades back in the day when we still had a three sided ground at the Lane and both Test and County cricket were played there.

    When I explained to him what the big area to the side of the ground with the pavilion behind it was for he remarked ” Cricket, a game that only an Englishman could have invented “.

    He had a point.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Well as a Catholic I know in my heart that humanity is a flawed vessel and I know that anyone, no matter how vile, is better for being a Catholic. So it is with cricket: just imagine how appalling humanity would be without either!

  • Lee

    But why? The ROI don’t have a vote on Brexit, England, Wales and NI do

  • Lee

    I cannot wait to go the European championships and tour round France. My match tickets arrived today! I would remind the Northern Ireland fans travelling (and the NI-based ROI fans travelling) that they may not be home in time for the EU referendum date so they may have to sort out a postal or proxy vote.
    A postal vote may be difficult as I think the ballots only get sent out on 10 June by which time most fans may have left to go to the Euros in France.
    An IN vote and Northern Ireland reaching the second round would be a highly satisfactory summer for me, lets make it happen folks!
    No Brexit, and No Northern Irish 1st round exit!
    And it goes without saying a summer and a European Championships without terrorist attacks is more important than anything.

  • Paul Hagan

    Well to be honest I just didn’t have a picture in mind and lifted this one from the BBC website- I take your point though because a few of RoI’s players are surely UK citizens or are employed or resident in the UK, thanks for reminding me

  • Paul Hagan

    Well it was the British who gave football to the Europeans

  • Paul Hagan

    I must ask, did you follow the activities of the Vatican cricket team and their recent British tour? I found that story fascinating, as was the story that Cardinal Cormac Muprhy O’Connor had played in a ‘Vatican Lions’ rugby team some years back

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well as a lapsed Catholic and also a lapsed cricket fan I’m not sure that I can go along with that but each to their own and I am keeping an eye out for the exploits of Joe Root, a fellow Sheffielder and Blade. : )

    By the way with the Catholic thing I’m with Dara O’ Briain on it.

    ” I’m agnostic, but still Catholic “

  • Jeffrey Peel

    1) Often passport control queues for non-EU nationals are much shorter 2) Low-cost airlines have made air travel cheaper – not the EU. Low cost airline travel has been a global phenomenon and no-frills airlines are common everywhere in the developed world. 3) VISA and Mastercard operate across the globe. 4) Minimum safety standards or red tape and meddling? Most developed countries seem to manage to provide safe hotels (because hotel operators know it’s better not to kill their customers) – and most countries aren’t members of the EU. 5) Free movement of goods, again, is a global phenomenon – largely as a result of the WTO. Trade is free within the single market but huge trade barriers around the EU mean that fans won’t be able to buy many goods when travelling in the EU that are subject to import tariffs. 6) I’d strongly recommend that all fans get private travel insurance that means they’ll get home to get health-care in an NHS hospital 7) The mobile operator 3 introduced ‘at home’ roaming charges well before the EU could get its act together. The EU has dragged its feet on roaming charges for decades – largely because of massive corporate lobbying by big mobile operators.

  • hgreen

    Their fans do. Is this not what the article was about?

  • Tochais Siorai

    He might have been handy enough, hIs brother Jim played for Ireland at no 8 and may have been the first international kicker to kick with the instep rather than the traditional punt.

  • So looking forward to the Euro 2016 football tournament. Like most Slugger readers I will naturally be cheering on the team in green managed by M. O’Neill.

  • Angry Mob

    2 & 4. Any treaty pre November 1993 is not an EU treaty and only goes to prove that we do not need the EU’s political union in order to cooperate with our European neighbours. This is more true than ever in a globalised world where legislation comes from international bodies that we cannot engage with because of our membership of the EU.

    7. Reduced roaming charges aren’t actually an EU initiative, again it’s largely down to the ITU, and the WTO provisions which were invoked which meant the game is up world wide, it would of came with or without the EU.

  • Paul Hagan

    Jeffrey, your faith in the market is still resolute it seems! On point 1 I have to confess I’ve often tried that trick of getting in the non-EU queue because it’s shorter- never works, but still I’ll probably try it again! To be fair I think it’s usually a good idea to get private health insurance, luckily that’s been strengthened by EU regulations too….

  • Gingray

    Their fans do, and the UK gives Irish citizens the vote, so when added to Ireland fans from de north there are probably more of us eligible to vote that norn iron want.

  • Neil

    6) I’d strongly recommend that all fans get private travel insurance that means they’ll get home to get health-care in an NHS hospital

    Christ on a bike what are you a masochist? There speaks a man who’s not been treated (effectively and quickly) in a European hospital, who hankers to be left on a trolley in a blood and effluent stained corridor of an NHS hospital. You’re suffering from that NI Unionist, British exceptionalism Jeff. It’s not superior just because it’s British, in many cases the opposite is the case.

  • cu chulainn

    Really? So roaming charges outside the EU will be also be negligible because of the ITU? Two chances.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Missed out on that one Paul: if I had have known I would have been cheering them on with the Vade retro Satana!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As Tully said, TPH, “non enim parum cognosse, sed in parum cognito stulte et diu perseverasse turpe est, propterea quod alterum communi hominum infirmitati alterum singulari cuiusque vitio est attributum.”

    Some of us look and learn……….

  • terence patrick hewett

    A little learning is dangerous but better than none at all: Pride is of course worse than both.

    I have always thought that the deeply unfashionable Oxbridge boat-race gives us a lesson: that how to deal with Kipling’s two impostors, Success and Failure: because there is no second prize in that race: after training your heart out for a year you either win everything or lose everything: the victory or loss is total: and defeat is felt so deeply by the young. And the perils of winning are just as dangerous as those of losing. Deny Hubris it’s feast and come back to win: the trick in life being to win more than you lose. No-one who has led a dangerous life ever sneers at Kipling’s “If”

    “I keep six honest serving-men
    (They taught me all I knew);
    Their names are What and Why and When
    And How and Where and Who.
    I send them over land and sea,
    I send them east and west;
    But after they have worked for me,
    I give them all a rest.

    I let them rest from nine till five,
    For I am busy then,
    As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
    For they are hungry men.
    But different folk have different views;
    I know a person small
    She keeps ten million serving-men,
    Who get no rest at all!
    She sends em abroad on her own affairs,
    From the second she opens her eyes
    One million Hows, Two million Wheres,
    And seven million Whys!”

  • robertianwilliams

    I can’t see the DUP winning this Referendum or the UK leaving Europe. However I do see the EU collapsing if it can’t sort out a firm response to third world immigration.

  • Jollyraj

    I wish Ireland well, now that we’re neighbourly again – though if I’m honest I’d always be much more enthused to see one of the four home countries doing well in it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It’s always dangerous to have had a Classical educate, TPH!!! Familiarity with Cicero and Co tends to offer endless examples of the oh so repetitive appalling behaviour of politicians and business interests which have been carefully assessed by masters of the art of analysis. Accordingly, when one encounters such things in modern life you recognise them right away, and can act accordingly. One of the great triumphs of “our masters” is to ensure through the harping on about “modernity” that we mostly live with knowledge of one generation, perhaps even one decade and sometimes even simply a few months in our imaginations, and have no in depth historical perspective to evaluate what is being done by others in our name.

    And yes, Kipling is dangerously insightful too, but can easily be dismissed because of his reputation as an Imperialist. T.S Elliot was not fooled and his preface to the selected poetry of Kipling is most informative for those not inclined to dismiss a poet because of the on the surface appearances!!!!!

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I must admit Neil I was attempting to be ironic on that one. Maybe too subtle. Just replace NHS with BUPA.

  • terence patrick hewett

    I am the envy of Sisyphus: I go quite well uphill when pushed!

  • Skibo

    And a bit like cricket the rest of the world showed them how to play.

  • Skibo

    Perhaps we should get Martin McG to explain it to them. An ardent supporter of the game.

  • Paul Hagan

    And there we have it folks, the true intentions of the ‘out’ campaign…