Politics impact on sports

Politics has recently dominated the conversation with the looming Canadian federal election, the age of Trump, and Brexit.

However, the former two won’t affect the sporting world as much as Brexit could. No matter who becomes prime minister in Canada or what party comes to power in the U.S., players from across the world will still be able to join NHL, MLS, NFL and other leagues.

But with Brexit, due to European Union agreements, this may not be possible in the near future. Not only will it affect player movement for sports clubs, but staffing and hosting (and attending) major tournaments.

Big clubs, such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, in the English Premier League will feel the changes the most. In a league that already favours foreign talent, Brexit could make it harder for them to attain new talent with the EU free movement all but dead.

Players from foreign countries must meet new requirements to join a team in the U.K., and must be an established international for a “leading nation.” So it’s safe to say that players like Christian Ronaldo could rejoin Manchester United or another EPL team if he were to want to do that, but it will make it harder for teams like Everton to scour the continent for young European players to develop into top-class players.

There is an upside to this though for local English/Scottish and Welsh players, who will fill the places of outgoing foreign players who either fail to meet the new work permit criteria.

But it also allows other European leagues to keep their strongest players, instead of English teams mining the likes of the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, etc. of talented youth players. Or instead, and more likely really, is that the EPL’s biggest rivals in term of strongest leagues – Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga – will capitalize on attaining youth players.

Another factor to take note of is the English pound. With it’s worth stooped below the Euro since Brexit, many players – even top English players – may be looking for a payday somewhere else in Europe (or elsewhere).

A scarier outlook from Brexit is the return of sectarian violence, particularly in Northern Ireland and Scotland. If tension’s between the Irish nationalists and unionists (and catholic and protestants) have been dying since 1998, talks of a hard border have stoked the flames again.

Glasgow’s Celtic and Rangers might see a higher turnout of “fans” who change a soccer game into a political quagmire, using chants and violence to incite divide. The same thing, but to a less visible extent, will happen in Northern Ireland.

English soccer’s anti-racism monitoring group, Kick It Out, also released a report on July 24, saying they have tracked 581 cases of discrimination in the 2018-19 season. These cases range from grassroots youth soccer to the EPL, and includes social media incidents. Racism made up 65 per cent of the cases reported, mostly based on anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim.

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