Saturday, June 18, 2016

Soccernomists to the rescue of europhile Britain

Since the consensus of economists in favour of the UK remaining in the European Union has not been enough apparently to convince a majority of voters, "soccernomists" are coming to the rescue. "Soccernomics" was the best book on soccer before "Soccermatics." The two authors of the former book, Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, have written nice pieces about how good the EU has been for soccer and soccer fans in the UK, especially in England. Simon Kuper writes today in the Financial Times (no free access apparently), and speaks about "the dark Europe-hating id of the Brexit campaign" but also of "a hidden subterranean English europhilia" especially present in the majority of football fans that enjoy how much better the English league has become thanks to Europe. Stefan Szymanski has a post with similar arguments in his blog and writes:
"English clubs and fans benefitted from being able to raise the standard of play in England, a fact that I have argued has led to a better standard play at the national team level. If you are one of those who think the national teams will do better with fewer foreign players take a look at the evidence.The march of the Premier League to global dominance has been a function both of openness to talent and openness to investors – bolstered by Britain’s membership of the EU. It’s possible to argue that Britain outside the EU could be even more open- but it is evident that a large fraction of support for the Leave campaign is motivated by anti-immigration sentiments which are hardly likely to make Britain outside the EU a more inviting place for foreigners. (...) My father was an immigrant from Poland- a soldier in 1939 who managed to escape, join the British army, marry a British wife and become a British citizen. It wasn’t so easy for Poles (or Hungarian) immigrants in Britain in the 1950s, just as it wasn’t easy for immigrants from the Indian sub-continent and the Caribbean in the 1960s, or Greek Cypriots and Ugandan Asians in the 1970s. And no doubt it wasn’t easy for Jewish refugees at the beginning of the 20th century, or Huguenots, or any other wave of immigrants in British history. But ultimately, I believe the British value of toleration has led ultimately to acceptance and integration. Britain has always been a country of migrants, and that for me is what helps to make it Great Britain.The diversity of Britain has always been for me one the greatest sources of pride in my country- whether in sport or any other dimension of life. Brexit would make us less diverse and so far poorer in ways that are much more important than the merely financial."

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