How Will Brexit Impact the Sports World?

19th December 2019
It's not uncommon to find news about how the sports world will be affected by the United Kingdom's exit from the EU. What will the impact of Brexit be in the sports field?

When we hear people talk about Brexit, the focus is generally on economic, social and political issues. However, the controversial Brexit will also have a strong impact on the sports field of the European Union.

While these consequences won’t be at the center of attention, they shouldn’t come as a surprise either. It’s not the first time (and it certainly won’t be the last) that political resolutions reflect on the dynamics and structure of sports, especially when it comes to administrative issues.

Politics, far from being limited to the decisions made by Parliament, are totally integrated into the daily reality of a whole society. With its particularities and eccentricities, the sports world isn’t exempt from current events; as a matter of fact, it’s waiting on the possible consequences of Brexit.

First of all: what is Brexit?

Brexit’s central issue is simple and clear: it’s about the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. In fact, the name Brexit comes from combining the term ‘exit’ with Great Britain. How will this affect Spain?

For many people, the idea that one of the most influential countries could abandon the most powerful block of the world seemed unthinkable. However, the initiative was set in motion after the majority of the British population approved it through a referendum; this happened during the middle of 2016.

Wooden letter blocks spelling the word Brexit

Ever since we’ve been able to confirm that the result of this ‘divorce’ is a lot more complex than the central idea of the Brexit. The United Kingdom is considered the fifth biggest economy on the planet. Almost half of its imports and exports happen within the EU; besides that, it’s a very important partner for the United States.

Any movement of this ‘heavyweight’ will impact not only in the EU but in every country. And even if Brexit was deactivated, it’s now a reality required by a big portion of the British society, including many of its political representatives. Therefore, the failure would generate just as much (or even more) uncertainty than an effective application.

How will Brexit impact the sports world?

In practice, while there are many people in the sports world who are in favor of Brexit, many others worry about the changes in immigration policies that could derive from this separation.

If we take a look at the Premier League, for example, we’ll find over 50 Spanish and French players that are defending the jersey of various English clubs. Without mentioning the athletes and coaches that come from other countries in the EU, and the American and African continents; they clearly bring an added value to the most lucrative championship of international soccer.

The impact of Brexit on other sports

The possible obstacles derived from Brexit will impact a lot more than just the soccer universe. In sports such as Formula One, mobility is the essence of their competitions as they take place on various continents. Changes in the immigration policies of the United Kingdom after leaving the EU could end up being a limiting factor.

Important racing teams such as McLaren, Renault and Williams set their operations center in the United Kingdom. However, their work teams are global and they employ professionals of different nationalities. Many of them come from more than 20 countries that compose the EU.

Something similar may happen in the horse riding world. It’ll become a lot more difficult to transport competition animals through borders. This is especially true if we remember that the United Kingdom has always been one of the most pragmatic and strict countries when it comes to immigration matters and animal access.

Kun Augero is a foreign athlete that may suffer the impact of Brexit if the immigration policies became stricter

In summary

The confirmation of Brexit could cause serious obstacles in sports, as teams and structures are becoming more and more globalized. The end of special agreements in economic matters, but especially in immigration policies, tends to complicate and increase the costs of day-to-day procedures that we currently carry out.

An example of the procedures that Brexit would impact is the recruitment of foreign athletes and coaches. The same thing goes for transporting materials, equipment, and even animals for competitions in the horse riding or kennel club world.

If the United Kingdom imposes stricter migratory conditions, this would certainly impact the club’s budgetary balance; it could even be damaging for the sport itself. The consequences may have a negative impact on the competitiveness and diversity of the teams.

  • Soledad Torrecuadrada. 2017. ¿Qué es el Brexit? Origen y posibles consecuencias. Extraído de: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1870465417300284
  • Instituto EL Cano. España ante el Brexit. 2018. Extraído de: http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/wcm/connect/79b903f5-a511-47d8-bbfe-1d99ad75ea80/Policy-Paper-2018-Espana-ante-Brexit.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=79b903f5-a511-47d8-bbfe-1d99ad75ea80