Football and politics rarely mix but this Thursday’s EU referendum could have a major impact on the sport.
Hundreds of footballers would love the right to play in the UK with a study from the BBC suggesting 332 European players currently playing in the Premier League, the Championship and Scottish Premiership would fail to meet the non-EU criteria if the UK broke away.
While there will be plenty more important implications of the vote than what happens in football, some of the sport’s biggest figures have had their say.
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With the majority of the younger generation failing to get inspired by the likes of David Cameron and Boris Johnson, some need a role model to look up to to get them interested in politics and willing to vote leave or remain on Thursday.
Step forward, David Beckham.
Beckham is a national icon and probably has a rather large influence on many people in England and the former footballer turned celebrity has had his say on the EU referendum.
The ex-Manchester United, Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder has posted a passionate Instagram message to explain his decide to vote remain.
Here is Beckham’s essay, which is accompanied by a picture of French legend Eric Cantona:
“I’m passionate about my country and whatever the result of Thursday’s referendum, we will always be Great. Each side has the right to their opinion and that should always be respected whatever the outcome of the European Referendum.
“I played my best years at my boyhood club, Manchester United. I grew up with a core group of young British players that included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville Brothers. Added to that was an experienced group of older British players such as Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and Paul Ince.
“Now that team might have gone on to win trophies but we were a better and more successful team because of a Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, the leadership of an Irishman Roy Keane and the skill of a Frenchman in Eric Cantona.
“I was also privileged to play and live in Madrid, Milan and Paris with teammates from all around Europe and the world. Those great European cities and their passionate fans welcomed me and my family and gave us the opportunity to enjoy their unique and inspiring cultures and people.
“We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong. For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone.
For these reasons I am voting to Remain.”
In truth, Beckham's words have probably done more to persuade people to vote remain than Cameron has in his months of campaigning.
But Beckham isn’t the only footballing figure to back to remain vote. Earlier this week, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: “I believe the world will only survive if we all try to work together.”
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