One of the greatest myths in the sporting world is that Americans don’t love soccer. It’s true that we don’t watch “European football” as much as American football, but soccer is the second most popular youth sport in America, behind basketball and well ahead of baseball or football.
For youth participation in Soccer, the U.S. is #1 and among girls, there are more registered players than all other countries combined – so Americans DO love soccer particularly during World Cup years.
And if you love the game, you may be interested to know that Brexit (Britain’s potential exit from the European Union) could have major consequences for not only the U.K. economy and its currency, but also for the whole sport of soccer.
Some of the most popular players would no longer qualify for work permits to play for British teams, which could open the teams up to major shuffling. Under current arrangements, players with an EU passport are now free to play for any team and leaving the European Union would mean tighter freedom-of movement restrictions if the visa rules for non-EU players were applied across the board.
This means up to two thirds of European stars in England would lose the right to play in the U.K. and require visas along with special work permits. As much as 200 Premier League players would be affected which could really change the makeup of the teams and disadvantage British clubs.
The teams with the greatest threats would be Newcastle United, Swansea City, Aston Villa, Watford and Sunderland. Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool have 5 players that could be affected while Chelsea has only 3.
According to the U.K. paper Guardian, Sunderland would have no goalkeepers left, while Swansea would be reduced to just one attacking player. Newcastle would lose six midfielders.
Among those European players who would not meet the criteria to get a work visa automatically are Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma and César Azpilicueta; Arsenal’s Héctor Bellerín and Francis Coquelin; Manchester United’s David de Gea, Juan Mata, Morgan Schneiderlin and Anthony Martial; Manchester City’s Eliaquim Mangala, Jesús Navas and Samir Nasri; Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet; Newcastle’s Tim Krul; Aston Villa’s Charles N’Zogbia; and West Ham’s Dimitri Payet.
Brexit could also change the sport and affect fans by increasing the cost to travel for away games. Not only could flights become more expensive but payments for visas may be required. Soccer is the most popular sport in England so don’t be surprised if it is used as a political weapon ahead of the June referendum.
The stay campaign could frighten the country’s passionate soccer fans by appealing to their fear of losing key players and motivate some of those on the fence about the referendum to come out and vote against leaving the European Union.
With 2 months to go before the referendum, polls still show a nearly 50-50 chance of the country remaining within the E.U. As warned by the Bank of England this month, Brexit creates significant near term consequences for the U.K. economy, and will undoubtedly translate into weakness for the currency.
However, for soccer fans, the decision to stay or leave the European Union can also have significant consequences for the sport.
Until next time,
Ms. Kathy Lien is the Managing Director and Founding Partner of BKForex’s strategies and is also the Co-Editor of Global Currency Investor (GCI), published by Weiss. Kathy, a leading currency and Forex expert, started the #1 Forex news site DailyFX.com, is a regular contributor to CNBC Squawk Box and is a former host of CNBC’s Forex show, Money in Motion. She is also an internationally-published author of the best-selling book, “Day Trading and Swing Trading the Currency Market” (now in its third edition) and “The Little Book of Currency Trading.”