The 11th of June marked the start of the 16th UEFA European Championship, the now erroneously titled Euro 2020 after its pandemic-induced delay of a y
The 11th of June marked the start of the 16th UEFA European Championship, the now erroneously titled Euro 2020 after its pandemic-induced delay of a year. Since Italy and Turkey kicked off proceedings in Rome, we’ve enjoyed a truly classic Euros, with more goals and drama than anyone would’ve dared to have imagined pre-tournament.
But while Euro 2020 has been incredible on a purely sporting level, as is often the case with sport generally, the significance of the international tournament has transcended football itself, which says a lot about society and the world as a whole. From encapsulating what a post-pandemic world should look like, to emphasising the importance of having defibrillators in public places — after Denmark’s Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during a game — the Euros have been about so much more than the game alone.
With the proliferation of affordable technology, the planet has been getting smaller for some time now. Not only can you book a flight to the other side of the world in minutes and be there within hours, but you can instantly communicate with those thousands of miles away. As a result, more people than ever live, work, and do business on a global scale. More of us even consider ourselves global citizens as a result which, according to citizenship advisory firm CS Global Partners, is “someone who aligns with being worldly, travelling across the globe, and embracing diversity”. Euro 2020 epitomises this globalised world we live in to a tee.
More Euro players than ever have dual nationality
With the ability to move around the world so freely (at least pre-Covid), it’s no surprise that tens of millions of people around the world hold dual citizenship. This simply means that they are citizens of two nations at the same time, which can offer advantages like greater international mobility and better economic opportunities. Euro 2020 has shown just how widespread dual citizenship is nowadays, with a higher number of players holding multiple nationalities than ever before.
According to The Independent, over a quarter (175) of the 622 players in the tournament have dual nationality, with as many as 23 even having triple nationality, and Wales’ Ethan Ampadu eligible for a whopping four nations overall. The team with the most dual citizens is France, with 17 players out of their 26 man squad having ties to another nation. Among the most famous examples are England’s Jack Grealish and Declan Rice, who both played for the Republic of Ireland at youth level before switching to the Three Lions. Meanwhile, Manchester City centre back Aymeric Laporte made headlines ahead of the tournament as, despite being born and growing up in France, he chose to represent Spain after a lack of playing opportunities for Les Bleus.
It’s important to note that the total number of players at the Euros with dual nationality is probably more like a third. This is because many players have either not publicised their ancestry or simply don’t know it. Some of these are incredibly generous, with Ireland’s ”granny rule” a particularly prominent example (albeit they didn’t actually qualify for this year’s Euros). With Irish citizenship laws stating that regardless of where a person is born, anybody whose parent or grandparent is an Irish citizen is eligible for Irish citizenship, many of their biggest stars from down the years don’t even have parents from the country. Among the teams in Euro 2020, the likes of Turkey, Scotland, and Italy have similarly lax rules, opening the door for as many people as possible to hold dual citizenship. As such, the tournament showcases different countries’ liberal citizenship laws in action.
The tournament is taking place across borders
As touched upon, the globalised world we live in increasingly involves doing business and working across borders. The rise in the number of multinational corporations (MNCs) epitomises this. Back in 1945, there were only a few hundred, yet the latest figures from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimated that there were over 100,000 MNCs controlling around 900,000 foreign affiliates. More so than any other European Championships, Euro 2020 is a huge example of the interconnectedness of today’s world, considering it is being played across 11 countries. Despite having partnered host nations in prior years, Euro 2020’s structure of multiple countries marks the first time an international tournament has had a format like this.
The idea for a pan-European Euros was conceived by then UEFA president Michel Platini in 2012 as a way to celebrate the tournament’s 60th anniversary, with the first taking place in 1960 in France. Another reason was to take away the financial burden from one or two host nations and share it among many, according to ex-UEFA General Secretary and now-FIFA president, Gianni Infantino. He stated: “An opportunity like this, to give many cities and many countries the possibility to host even just one part of a Euro, is certainly an excellent thing, especially in times when you have an economic situation where you cannot expect countries to invest in facilities in the way that such an event requires.”
However, the tournament’s novel format hasn’t been universally well-received, especially in light of the pandemic. Travelling during the coronavirus crisis increases the odds of infection for everyone from the players and fans, to the organisers and broadcasters. This also raises environmental issues, while it also further tires out players already fatigued from a compressed 2020/21 season due to the pandemic.
The tournament’s reach is truly global
Euro 2020’s reach goes far beyond the confines of Europe. Just as someone from the UK may sit down and watch a Japanese anime or a Bollywood film, or someone from Brazil can stream a Hollywood blockbuster, people from across the globe tune in to the Euros. And with the rise of streaming, this year’s tournament is expected to have a bigger reach than ever. Around 1.9 billion people are predicted to watch live Euros matches through its official TV and streaming platforms, with a total live event audience of roughly 4.7 billion projected for the competition’s duration. All in all, it has 137 broadcast partners across 229 territories, making it one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
Moreover, Euro 2020’s sponsors come from all over the world. From FedEx (the US) and Hyundai (South Korea), to TikTok (China) and Qatar Airways (Qatar), it’s fair to say that the tournament truly is “a bonanza for corporate sponsors and partners” on a global scale. That said, the sponsorship of individual teams does seem to fit in with the promotion of national identity and industries. For instance, Germany is sponsored by the likes of Volkswagen and Adidas, England by BT, and Denmark by Carlsberg.
So, even though the Euros ultimately pits different countries up against each other, it is still a great encapsulation of today’s increasingly cosmopolitan world. From the number of dual nationals playing in the tournament to its massive global presence, the tournament transcends football and brings the world closer together in a way that’s quite unique.