Brexit — Britain voting to exit the European Union — could have significant affects for the country’s most successful sporting export: soccer.
That is because Brexit’s impact could put a hindrance on the process of continental players easily joining Premier League clubs in the U.K.
According to the Associated Press, England abolished its “hooligan” culture which came with British soccer in the 1990s. Ever since doing so, it has attracted more modest players from Europe to join their leagues.
However, with the incumbent Brexit era looming, with ramifications already evident in Britain’s economy, talent acquisition for soccer will also be impacted by Brexit, as Britain continues to negotiate its relationship terms with the rest of Europe after leaving.
One Brexit-related issue will mean that transfer fees for European players will rise for British clubs since they will now receive a “foreign” status.
Foreign players in a post-Brexit Britain have to convert their soccer salaries and will be earning less for the pound due to Britain’s sharp drop in value of their currency almost immediately following the Brexit vote, according to sources. On the up-side, British player’s salaries will be cheaper.
Work permits may also be an issue for British players due to Brexit’s impact. Although not required, being a citizen of a European Union country does make the process of working across borders seamless.
However, it’s substantially harder if you don’t have an EU, EFA, or Swiss passport. And it is significantly more difficult for British soccer players to acquire one due to rigid regulations placed on them a year ago. With the impact of Brexit, that process will become increasingly difficult.
The existence of the “exemptions panel” however, may alleviate any restrictions on obtaining a work permit granted that a soccer player or club can present a valid argument as to why a visa should be given.
Like many British and Europeans citizens, soccer players and fans hope that free travel between European countries and Britain remain the same as they were before the impact of Brexit.
The EFA (English Football Association) remains optimistic about the whole Brexit ordeal and its impact on soccer by viewing it as an opportunity to cultivate more British native talent. In effect, this would boost England’s national team.
EFA chairman Greg Dyke stated the following.
“If (Brexit) increases the number of English players, that is to be welcomed. But you don’t want to lose the best European players coming here.”
On the contrary, the very reason why the EFA looks forward to a national soccer association impacted by Brexit is the reason why the British Premier League wants to protect soccer from being impacted by Brexit.
The competition which comes with multinational talent making up their squads is what makes them the “premier” league in a global sport. Executive chairman of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, stated that the Premier League adamantly supported staying in the EU during the referendum campaign.
“We are a global export, we look outwards, We are open to the world and we do business all around the world.”
The biggest impacts of Brexit on soccer will not be seen for perhaps 10 years or so into the future regarding youth development.
That is if clubs no longer will be able to sign top 16- to 18-year-old talent from all over Europe as easily or even at all. For instance, had Brexit been initiated in 2003, Arsenal would not have been been able to sign 16-year-old Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.
Empieza la Eurocopa!
— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) June 13, 2016
Sports lawyer Carol Couse, of Mills & Reeve, claims that Brexit could give the rest of Europe a competitive advantage over English clubs regarding recruiting.
“Youth development is probably the biggest impact Brexit is likely to have.”
What do you think of Brexit and its potentially grave impact on soccer?
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