National sports teams to display EU flag on shirts

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In a highly controversial move, eurocrats have demanded that the EU’s gold and blue flag should be given equal billing alongside each country’s own famous motifs at major sporting occasions.

Under the plans, competing nations at events such as the Olympics or the World Cup would be required to prominently display the EU’s logos on their jerseys.

It would also mean that national flags displayed around a stadium or when teams take to the field would need to be accompanied by the European symbol.

Critics yesterday described the plan as ‘daft’ and said it was a blatant attempt by officials in Brussels to impose a European identity on the individual countries who make up the EU.

The EU has repeatedly faced criticism for trying to introduce subtle measures that some believe will transform the bloc into a federal ‘superstate’ system.

As well as football and the Olympics, the proposals could also apply to teams playing cricket, hockey and rugby.

The hushed plan emerged in a document drawn up by a European Parliament’s committee on culture and education, titled ‘an integrated approach to sport policy’.

The report encourages national sports bodies to ‘use the EU flag and symbol, together with individual flags and national symbols’ during sporting events in which member states are involved.

It adds that major sports events ‘provide a great opportunity for organised sports to promote positive values’ and as a ‘driver for tourism and local businesses’.

The report was overwhelmingly approved by the European Parliament yesterday and will be passed to the EU’s executive arm to consider drawing the requirement into legislation.

Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin dismissed the plan as ‘another example of the EU wrapping bad ideas up in an attractive banner and expecting us to turn a blind eye’.

The EU was granted powers to make rules and recommendations in the field of sport under the Lisbon Treaty in 2009.

A similar plan was floated by a European Parliament committee in 2011 and included a concession that member states should be allowed to make the final decision after an outcry.

It was eventually decided however not to implement the recommendation.

Official EU documents describe the flag as symbolising both the ‘European Union and, more broadly, the identity and unity of Europe’.

The flag, officially adopted by the EU in 1985, is made up of 12 gold stars on a blue background that are said to stand for ‘the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe’.