Joint Euro 2028 bid will ‘help Boris Johnson save the Union’ claims Telegraph chief sports writer
The joint bid put in by Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland to host Euro 2028 could “help Boris Johnson save the Union” according to the Telegraph‘s chief sports writer.
Oliver Brown said that the tournament, which could be held in close proximity to another Scottish independence referendum, could be “milked for political capital”.
“The ‘stronger together’ theme of the UK and Ireland’s bid is unmistakeable,” he wrote, adding that the “cross-border jamboree of summer football” could “quell any debate over the future of the Union for good”.
Despite the presence of the independent Republic of Ireland in the joint bid, Oliver Brown said that the bid would be a “concrete expression” of Boris Johnson’s “oft-stated belief in the strength of the Union”.
“Much depends on how many of Euro 2028’s host nations will earn the right to qualify, but the precedents suggest a tournament extending from London to Dublin, Glasgow to Cardiff, will engender the same unifying effect,” he wrote.
“And however much we might still delude ourselves that sport is apolitical, it is one that Johnson, scarred by myriad scandals and searching for some tangible monument to his defence of the union, is primed to exploit.”
Yesterday the Football Associations of England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales have today submitted a joint ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) to host Uefa’s Euro 2028.
They are likely to be handed the tournament unopposed as the only other country to show an interest in hosting the country is Russia, who faste a sporting boycott over their invasion of Ukraine.
Oliver Brown added that talk of a Scottish independence campaign in the early 2020s was “remote to the point of fancy” and therefore “the prospect of a giant shared sporting enterprise in 2028 has the potential to inflict further damage on [Nicola Sturgeon’s] fading campaign.”
“If there is one constant in Johnson’s political calculus, it is his fondness for using the power of sport to buttress his reputation and advance his objectives.
“Johnson’s governing philosophy has been described as ‘boosterism’ – defined, depending on taste, by either the defiance of gloom or the mantras of a mindless optimist – and it is seldom more effective than when there is a vast sporting celebration in which to bask.
“The abiding collective memory of the London Games is of a time when, if only temporarily, grievances and resentments melted away.”
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