UEFA 2020 Euro Championship – Day 29

Football – it’s just a game right? Yes, essentially it is, but consider the positive impact it has had and could continue to have if England go on to beat Italy to become European Champions for the first time. The tournament as a whole will undoubtedly have boosted the economy as football fans have flocked to various venues (even with COVID restrictions), spending their cash on food and drink whilst watching games. Additionally, there is all the merchandise and associated spend, including shirts that have been purchased for the participating countries. And you can bet that if England were to win it, the current shirt would become iconic, and no doubt bring a wave of further sales as possible ‘limited edition’ variations would become produced by the savvy marketing team at Nike.

But there hasn’t been just a financial benefit to the country, there will have been a sense of well-being and pride that meant people have gone about their business with a smile on their face, uplifted by the Three Lions progress. Since the 2018 World Cup there has been a greater connection between the England squad and the country, and which again been evident, although it is still disheartening to hear fans boo the National anthems of other countries and the mixed reaction to England taking the knee before games.

Of course if England don’t overcome the Azzuri, there will be a negative reaction, as a small minority resort to mindless overreaction that has been seen in previous years as England have crashed out of tournaments.

But whatever the result, hopefully it will have encouraged people of all ages, colour, gender etc. to either get involved with the sport for the first time, whether grassroots, semi-professional or elite level. It would be great to see participation and volunteer numbers rise as a result of a remarkable competition for Gareth Southgate’s squad and also our grounds up and down the country filled at all levels of football as we hopefully return to some sort of normality post-COVID.

The last 18 months or so will always be remembered for COVID and what is has done to our everyday lives – wouldn’t it be great if England winning the Euros was a bright footnote to an incredibly difficult period.