England reached its first major tournament final since winning the World Cup in 1966 after beating Denmark 2-1 in a gripping encounter at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday. Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions had to come from behind to win and, as the match went into extra-time, a penalty decided the result. Southgate told the UEFA website: “I’m so proud of the players.
“It was an incredible occasion to be a part of. The fans were incredible all night.”
England will now face Italy in the final after the Azzurri beat Spain on penalties on Tuesday.
While the Italian side has looked imperious during Euro 2020, England will hope the home support at Wembley can inspire it to a historic victory on Sunday.
As tensions rise and English fans will now dare to dream, unearthed reports reveal that Brexit could have cost England this tournament.
In April 2016, it emerged that French and German UEFA officials wanted to file a legal petition suspending England from the Euros in the event of Brexit.
The motion, which would have also impacted Wales and Northern Ireland, cast the three home nations into a legal limbo just days before the start of the Round of 16 of the Euro 2016 football championships.
Jurgen Loos, the former German central midfielder who was spearheading the Franco-German proposal, said at the time: “Solidarity is a core principle in Europe, and this is true in the great game of football no less than trade or politics.
“If Britain leaves, then we should be clear: ‘out’ means ‘out’.”
Draft legal documents seen by The Telegraph also set out contingencies for dealing with angry English fans whose Euro 2016 tickets and EU passports would have been automatically invalidated in the event of Brexit.
Yuro Baloni, spokesman at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, declined to comment until the petition had been formally filed, but sources said that the plan had gathered sudden momentum after England’s stunning 3-2 win over Germany in Berlin in April 2016.
The proposals sparked a furious reaction from pro-Leave campaign groups.
A group said: “This is yet another shameless attempt to rig this referendum.
“It is now clear that voting to ‘Leave’ Europe on June 23 is the only way to ensure England wins back the World Cup in 2018.”
A spokesman for ‘Britain Bigger and Better in Europe’, the pro-Remain group, said the UEFA plan was a foretaste of the chaos Britain faced if it left the EU, adding that voters had been given yet another reason to “think very carefully” before stepping through the exit door.
A spokesman added: “Anyone who thinks UEFA referees will treat any of the home nations kindly after a vote to ‘leave’ on June 23 is deluding themselves.
“We’ll be shown the red card the first chance they get, guaranteeing German dominance for years to come.”
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The petition never saw the light of day.
Sports immigration lawyer Maria Patsalos said before the referendum: “Membership in the EU is not relevant to the UEFA position, as the members of UEFA are entirely separate.
“For example, neither Switzerland and Russia are in the EU, but are still eligible to play in European Championships.
“Therefore, England and Premier League clubs would not be prohibited in any way in the event of a Brexit.”
The reassurance also came after Liverpool played in the final of the Europa League and Manchester City reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2016.
Another view, from Professor Raymond Boyle from the University of Glasgow, is that the Euros and Champions League are two of the most high profile expressions of “shared European cultural identity”.
He added: “Neither is dependent on membership of the EU.
“In short, being out of the EU would have little impact on elite football in the UK.”