History and politics will colour the Euros like never before

It might look like a football tournament but the Euros is far more than that, writes David Harding

Wednesday 09 June 2021 00:01
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<p>The group games will see several countries play each other that have previously met on battlefields</p>

The group games will see several countries play each other that have previously met on battlefields

At a time of fevered debate about sport and politics, along comes the Euros, which starts on Friday. The tournament is usually lots of fun – a heady mix of success, drama and predictable disappointment (delete as appropriate, depending on your nationality).

But there are also other things that give the Euros an edge – history and politics. In fact, the event not only incorporates the two, it is engulfed by them. Regardless of any current debate about something that should not even be challenged – protests against racism – off-field events will be everywhere at the tournament.

Europe’s nation states have spent large parts of their history in conflict with each other, some more than others. History – and the gloomiest reading of the continent’s current international relations – tell us that some will go to war with each other again.

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