Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

World Cup bid at heart of Britain’s Brexit sports event plan

Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) Britain is looking to host up to 60 major sporting events over the next 15 years, including soccer’s World Cup, to assert global influence and attract trade deals in the uncertainty after Brexit.

The strategy by the UK Sport government agency was announced Wednesday with the country in the midst of a protracted divorce from the European Union to implement the result of the 2016 referendum and strike new international alliances.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Building on the success of the 2012 Olympics in London and the English Premier League, hosting major sporting events is now seen as a key instrument of soft power by British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

“This is us thinking about … where the country finds itself right now and the big challenges it has over the next decade, how we can use sport to help the country,” UK Sport chief operating officer Simon Morton said. “It feels to me like for the first time in decades our country is going to be in a little bit of nation building.”

English soccer officials have launched a feasibility study into bidding for the FIFA World Cup in 2030 not only in partnership with the rest of the U.K. – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but also Ireland.

“The last five years really for us as a country we’ve been talking about our own identity, whether it’s the strength of our unions the United Kingdom or it’s how overseas people see us either in Europe or the rest of the world,” Morton said. “So Brexit is a massive factor behind this. We want to think about how we can use sport and sporting events to really showcase the best of the UK to the world.”

Drawing on the victory by the United States, Canada and Mexico in landing the 2026 World Cup, a British Isles entry is seen as essential to attracting votes in the new system that gives every soccer nation a say in the decision.

England last hosted the World Cup in 1966 when it won on home soil. Two bids have failed since then, and there was anger in the English Football Association and British government about the decision to hand the 2018 tournament to Russia. The feasibility study will include an assessment over whether FIFA’s votes can be more trusted since Gianni Infantino replaced Sepp Blatter in 2016 and the electorate was expanded with a public vote.

“We have to recognize that process that FIFA has just used (for the 2026 World Cup) was significantly better than before, significantly more transparent than before,” Morton said. “But everybody remembers the process of the last decade. So the FA is doing a feasibility study to look at whether we should bid.”

There is less to consider about bids for other world championships.

Plans are in place to bring the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup back to the country as well as the world championships for athletics, badminton, boxing, canoe slalom, curling and gymnastics.

With British cyclists holding the three titles from the major races for the first time, an attempt will be made to host the starts of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta. The Ryder Cup has been held twice in Britain in the last eight years – in Wales and Scotland – and an attempt will be made to stage it again.

Hosting the events is about more than prestige for Britain.

“They are really important in terms of projecting an image to the world as an open nation,” Morton said. “In terms of trade it’s also important.”

More AP sports: and

Klopp talks politics: ‘Brexit makes no sense’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

Report: Arsenal bids for Brazilian star, but Brexit muddies the water

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gabriel Barbosa, or Gabigol, is one of the hottest young commodities in the world, with four caps and two goals for Brazil at age 19.

The youngster is drawing interest from across the world, and ESPN Brazil reports that Arsenal have made a formal bid for Gabigol and drawn his interest.

[ MORE: Blanc leaves PSG ]

The problem, according to the report? Changes to the transfer policy caused by the recent Brexit vote could hurt his chances of arriving at the Emirates. It’s unclear from specifically how from the report, other than the uncertain nature of any changes.

The Santos man scored 21 goals in his first two full seasons and has 10 so far in 2016. That’s not quite Neymar-Santos production, but it’s still very strong. His senior international goals have come this summer, first in a friendly against Panama and then in a Copa America Centenario win over Haiti.

Fiorentina and Chinese club Hebei China Fortune are also linked through massive bids.

What does UK’s exit from EU mean for the Premier League?

Getty Images

On Friday morning it was announced that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.

A referendum was called and 51.9 percent of citizens across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who voted decided to leave the EU after 43 years. Now, let’s not delve into politics too much here. We shall leave that to the good folks at NBC News.

However, the main question many of you will be asking if you’re visiting this page is simple: how does this impact the Premier League?

The answer in short is not much but there would still be an impact.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live last week about Brexit and he supported the UK remaining in the EU as the PL is all about openness.

“The main reason we have concluded that remain is best is because of our outlook,” Scudamore said. “We are a global export. We look outwards. We are open to the world and do business with the world. Really, when it comes down to it you’ve just got to decide are we better being open? Are we better acting like we want to play our part in the world and be worldly citizens or do we want to send a signal to the world that says actually we’re kind of pulling the drawbridge up here. We’re going to take control of our own destiny.

“Well, that doesn’t seem to sit very well when you travel the world like we do being welcomed because of the fact that we are open for business, open for discussion, and open for cooperation. There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position.”

Now the UK has decided to leave, the PL and other leading organizations within it faces changes.

The PL has released a statement on Friday following the EU referendum result.

“The Premier League is a hugely successful sporting competition that has strong domestic and global appeal. This will continue to be the case regardless of the referendum result.

“Given the uncertain nature of what the political and regulatory landscape might by following the ‘Leave’ vote, there is little point in second guessing the implications until there is greater clarity. Clearly, we will work with the government and other bodies whatever the outcome of any process.”

When it comes to the movement of players from Europe to the PL, it would now mean that theoretically players from outside Great Britain would have to apply for a work permit to do so. Just like current non-EU or European Economic Area (EEA) players have to.

SUNDERLAND,UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 3: Dimitri Payet of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and West Ham United at the Stadium of Light on October 3, 2015 in Sunderland United Kingdom ,(Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Of course, there are certain guidelines players from non-EU countries have to meet to play in the PL (such as play in a certain amount of national team games over a certain time period which you can find here via the English Football Association) to keep a certain standard of play.

For example a non-EU player from a nation ranked inside FIFA’s top 10 has to have played at least 30 percent of national team games in the two years prior to applying for a work permit to be able to play professionally in the UK. The lower ranked his national team, the higher percentage of games he has to play. The likes of N'Golo Kante, Dimitri Payet and Anthony Martial, who all arrived in the PL last summer, would not have been able to gain a work permit to play in the UK if it wasn’t for their EU passport.

The numbers below show the new work permit laws passed in March 2015 by the FA with regards to the FIFA ranking of the players nation and the percentage of games he must play to gain the work permit.

FIFA 1-10: 30% and above
FIFA 11-20: 45% and above
FIFA 21-30: 60% and above
FIFA 31-50: 75% and above

Last season 432 EU players were registered in the PL and although they will all likely be able to remain in the UK after this landmark vote, it is believed any new players from Europe will have to go through the work permit process. However, it has been calculated by the BBC that up to 100 players in the PL do not meet the current work permit guidelines (plus another 332 if you count the English Championship and Scottish Championship) and therefore could be ineligible to play in the UK when the exit from the EU is complete.

That’s unless the English FA, who work with the British Home Office to set the parameters for work permits, alters some of the rules. The FA could, of course, also just be slightly less lenient if a player from Europe doesn’t quite meet the standard set out above and gain them entry via an appeal anyway. In non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland, work permit laws are relaxed to allow players to move in and out freely. Will we now see PL teams stockpiling players from the EU or the EEA ahead of the UK’s eventual exit? Probably not.

One spin off for PL teams could well be that they are now forced to only buy players from the top FIFA nations who can get work permits easily, with gems such as Kante and Payet unable to gain entry to work in the UK. That would mean transfer fees would rise for most, if not all, PL clubs. Another impact is said to be agents and players already asking PL clubs to pay them in Euros instead of British Pounds as the value sterling has plummeted since the decision to leave the UK was announced.

Conversely, that could make PL teams more enticing for overseas investors, especially from the U.S. With Swansea City currently undergoing a buyout from an American ownership group, the huge fall in the value of sterling could see them recoup plenty of cash for doing absolutely nothing. If the pound remains weak against the dollar then now could be the prime time for American investors interested in buying a PL club to pounce.

Arsenal v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League

Another area which could be impacted is youth players moving freely within the EU when aged 16-18. Under FIFA rules, no players can cross borders under the age of the 18 but in the EU that was not the case. In the past the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin joined Arsenal from Barcelona under the age of 18, while Manchester United signed Adnan Januzaj and Timothy Fosu-Mensah in similar circumstances.

Labor laws between the EU and the UK will become very complicated going forward and politicians believe the UK’s full exit from the EU may not be rubber-stamped for at least two years and probably a lot longer than that. Of course, bilateral trade agreements with individual EU countries could also be set up by the UK to help ease the red-tape for EU citizens looking to work in the UK in the future.

In short, this will be a long process but it will certainly have an impact on the ability of European players moving to the UK in the future.