It is always inspiring to watch big sporting events such as Euro 2016. Tournaments like these, with all their ups and downs, also reflect the moods and dilemmas of participating nations.
In this summer’s European championship, we have witnessed teams representing small nations beat the bigger teams. Iceland sending Great Britain out, Wales playing with zeal and belief and Ireland and the republic of Northern Ireland showing their colors proudly are some of the examples. Small looked big and beautiful compared to bigger nations.
This should be seen in the backdrop of the UK referendum, or Brexit, and Europe’s siege-like mindset due to continued terror threats, economic hardship, and an influx of migrants. The circumstances make one wonder whether it is time to halt decisions on a grand scale and seek small concise made-to-measure solutions as a way to preserve efforts, hard work, assets, culture, stability, cohesion, and identity to compete in a volatile world and its precarious economies.
Europe is indeed at a crossroads. The referendum in the UK has sounded an alarm bell that is echoing in many European capitals with voices calling for closure, disentanglement bordering on isolation, all born from fear. Since the economic crisis of 2008, it seems that there are forces working against the “Europeanized” or globalized economy and the largess of a great union that made sense several decades ago.
This is not happening in Europe alone. In the US, the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, is ridiculing the federal large state and calling for a smaller less infringing mega state, though that is in keeping with the traditional Republican mantra.
But, his words are echoing like never before with middle America and his rants against migration and immigrants, and against Mexicans or Muslims are not causing the outcry this might have caused in yesteryears.
Trump’s comments, which are far from politically correct for a would-be leader, are tolerated by many due to a lingering feeling of fear that replaces the faith that drove the capitalist American laissez-faire machine forward.
Most small nations in the Euro competition have returned home, but they have created a belief that smaller teams can compete and provide alternatives to many questions faced today by smaller and larger nations alike.
The economic fallouts of Brexit are starting to reveal themselves in the tumbling of the currency and asset devaluationMohamed Chebarro
The UK is stepping slowly toward an exit from the EU. The political fallouts of such an exit are not yet felt by the masses. This has been delayed by party elections and leadership contests that will determine who could captain the ship out of the European troubled waters and their many currents that could drown the ship.
The economic fallouts of Brexit are starting to reveal themselves in the tumbling of the currency and asset devaluation. One hopes that when the free fall stops the economy will show itself more competitively with the flexible labor market the UK has always maintained hoping for a better rebound.
Such a rebound didn’t happen for the English team in Euro 2016, but in government and economic performance terms, this could prove to be a different story.
Tolerance and diversity
What has made Britain great throughout its many centuries of history is its ability to bounce back and re-invent itself armed with tolerance, diversity, and a readiness to embrace the unknown and turn it into yet another opportunity for growth and prosperity.
To do that, in keeping with the small and compact mentality mentioned previously, Britain needs to be armed with faith not fear, with openness not isolation. All of this could allow an opportunity to venture, invest, and maybe prosper. Therefore Britain needs to be prepared to open borders and broaden spirits within fair and just laws that reward efforts rather than penalize them.
Talks of curbing migration, sealing borders, and slowly doing away with a work force that (love it or loathe it) made Britain affordable for a myriad of businesses in the past decades would be akin to shooting oneself in the foot.
Smaller could be good, compact teams could win competitions and make a show in today’s world, but to grow and prosper and spread, Britain needs to connect more with its ethos as a tolerant multi-cultural nation state that has welcomed, from an ethical stand point, those persecuted from as far back as the time of the Huguenot of 1870’s France, and Russian Jews from the 1880’s and later mainly East European Jews in post-World War 2.
Today’s backlash against Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian European migrants led to Brexit, forgetting that if streamlined properly into today’s economy their contributions represent an opportunity.
One must not forget that what made Britain Great was its ability to adapt its political and economic priority and employ and later settle migrant workers who came from as far as India to work in the merchant navy in the 1800’s or in British factories in the 1900s.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.