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Five ways Brexit could affect sport and development

Five ways Brexit could affect sport and development

Should we be worried about the recent UK referendum result?

Gabriel Tito Tabona recently asked the following question on’s Facebook page:

"How will the Brexit affect the Sports for Development sector? More so, the EU supported programmes from Britain?"

It should be made clear that we are not sure how Brexit will affect sport and development. This will depend on British politics and future negotiations between the UK and the EU. Therefore, the points which follow are purely speculation, but we have attempted to outline some possible scenarios in response to Gabriel's question. 

1. Reduced funding
Reports suggest that UK scientists have been dropped from multinational projects because of fears their participation will jeopardise EU funding opportunities. Many sport and development academics are UK based, meaning a possible impact on sport and development research.

Similarly, some European NGOs may start to feel that funding will become harder to access from the UK and the other way around: from the EU to the UK.

2. A decrease in the value of British aid
Devex stated that British aid has lost $1.9 billion in value as a result of the pound’s recent devaluation and the Overseas Development Institute claims that, when the decreased value of UK sourced remittances and other factors are considered, the total loss to developing countries is $3.9 billion. This is bad news for sport and development organisations receiving UK funding, and the communities they work with.

3. Reduced opportunities for British people
There is a possibility that UK citizens will find it harder to work in the EU. This means fewer opportunities for young sport and development professionals. In addition, the future participation of British people in the Erasmus+ training scheme, which has a strong sports component, is uncertain.

4. More independence for UK funding organisations
Opportunities may also open up in the wake of Brexit. Owen Barder from the Center for Global Development argues there may be “an opportunity to target UK aid more sharply on the poorest countries… or to shift this aid to more effective multilateral institutions than the European Commission (notably the World Bank)”. Accordingly, sport and development organisations in some parts of the world might be able to access resources from new channels in the future. 

5. A greater need for more sport projects in the UK
The referendum has highlighted divisions in British society. Generally speaking, the young, middle class, university educated and people living in Scotland, Northern Ireland and bigger cities were more likely to vote to remain in the EU. People who are older, working class, non-university educated or living in England, Wales, smaller cities and rural areas were more likely to vote to leave.

Many people voted to leave because they believe that the EU, immigration or the UK’s ruling class are to blame for unemployment, reduced access to public services and other social problems. Sport can create opportunities, provide the skills needed for employment, heal divisions and promote unity.

To conclude: the answer is unclear as to how Brexit will affect those involved in sport and development. There have already been some major changes but it will take more time to truly know the future impact. We’re sure that everyone will be paying close attention to this topic as it continues to unfold.



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Paul Hunt & Jaidip Patel


Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 23:00