June 20, 2016
England take on Slovakia in the Euro 2016 football tournament tonight, the evening after the countries’ beloved Premier League came out in favour of Remain.
With three days to go until Thursday’s vote, polls are neck-a-neck between those wanting to quit or stay in the EU.
But will the performance of the English national team tonight have any influence on the voting?
England stand a very good chance of qualifying after their victory against Wales and draw against Russia. They have four points, while Wales and Slovakia have three.
But If Wales and Slovakia win, England could still finish third and go home – if they are one of the two worst-placed third teams in the tournament.
Heard in Europe consulted various experts, some of whom had been nervously eyeing the final group game.
While some argued that qualification could lead to a groundswell of positive opinion towards Europe, others thought victory could bolster a belief that Britain could go it alone and win.
Perhaps most worrying for EU bosses such as European Council President Donald Tusk – who today pleaded with Brits to stay – and Remain-backing Prime Minister David Cameron, there are two worrying precedents.
Denmark triumphed in the final of Euro 1992 in Sweden. The fairy-tale victory over Germany was all the more incredible as Denmark only qualified because of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
The final took place on 26 June 1992. On 2 June, 50.7% of Danes rejected the Maastricht Treaty in a referendum.
And in the 1970 World Cup, England – then World Champions – unexpectedly lost to West Germany.
Four days after the “match that lost an election”, British voters kicked Labour’s Harold Wilson from office.
Photo courtesy of Leon Benjamin and Flickr. Published under a Creative Commons licence.Heard in Europe