David Beckham joins team Remain - but what do other stars think about Brexit?

David Beckham joins team Remain - but what do other stars think about Brexit?

21/06/2016 at 12:21Updated 21/06/2016 at 19:31

With Britain set to go to the voting booths on Thursday to vote on continued membership of the European Union, the result is still too close to call - but David Beckham has had his say.

Some of the latest opinion polls give the 'Leave' campaign a slight edge, others claim that 'Remain' is ahead, while the bookies are convinced that the latter will hold sway, assuming that fear of the status quo being broken will be enough to influence the undecided voters.

Of course, neither pollsters nor bookies called last year's general election correctly. So what do they know?

Only one thing is certain: election fever will take over the country for the next 72 hours. And conveniently for those who have an interest in both, the vote coincides with a two-day hiatus in the football over at Euro 2016.

Football and politics always get mixed up together – look no further than Franco's Real Madrid, or West Ham's amazing machinations in persuading authorities to lease them the Olympic Stadium at a knock-down rate. So it's no surprise to see some of football's biggest names – stars, administrators and journalists – putting in their two cents about the biggest vote in the country for generations.

Ex-England star Sol Campbell: "If we want to see more English stars we must Vote Leave"

Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell PA Sport

"[The Premier League] can become even better – and at the same time improve the opportunities football gives our young people. Making the changes we need means taking back control of the game we love. That is why I am supporting the Vote Leave campaign for Britain to withdraw from the European Union…

" We are seeing teams load up with too many mediocre overseas footballers, especially from Europe, crowding out young English and British talent. Because of European rules on freedom of movement, it is virtually impossible for us to get a proper grip on the situation."

"British parents are seeing their talented sons and, increasingly, daughters squeezed out of the top teams’ training structures. Some of them become so despondent they may drop out of football altogether. There is a real danger that we could ruin young people’s connection with the sport…

"Often, clubs get it right. I have loved watching the rise of Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane. You can see the pride the Spurs fans have that he is – as they sing – ‘one of our own’… Harry was out on loan for a few seasons and only made it into the Tottenham team because then manager Tim Sherwood took a chance on him. In some other Premier League teams, he might not have got a look in.

"If we want to see more English stars like Harry Kane rise through the ranks we should take back control – and Vote Leave."

Football icon David Beckham: "We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong"

David Beckham

David BeckhamAFP

David Beckham's views on the referendum were sent out as a press release by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, in which he talked about how important Europe had been in his career:

"[At Manchester United] we were a better and more successful team because of a Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, the leadership of an Irishman Roy Keane and the skill of a Frenchman in Eric Cantona…

"We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong.

" For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone. "

"For these reasons I am voting to Remain."

Beckham's famous wife Victoria was used as a poster girl – literally – for the Leave campaign, as they quoted her criticising the EU.

"The Euro-bureaucrats are destroying every bit of national identity and individuality. Let me give you an example — those new passports are revolting, an insult to our kingdom, our independence. We must keep our national individuality."

Victoria has clearly changed her mind since, as on Tuesday she Tweeted her support for her husband's view on the EU and shared a link to the Stronger In website:

John Barnes denies Michael Gove's claim he's pro-Brexit

John Barnes (Reuters)

John Barnes (Reuters)Reuters

Conservative Justice Secretary Michael Gove was left red-faced after citing John Barnes as a Brexit supporter on TV - only for the former England footballer to dismiss his claim.

Gove was reacting to news Beckham had announced his support for the Remain campaign.

“What I would say is that there are lots of people from sport like Sol Campbell and John Barnes.”

However, Barnes called up Sky News to clarify his position.

“How this has happened was I gave an interview stating that, for English footballers, it would be better off being out of the EU because, of course, you couldn’t get all these European players coming in so easily.

“That was then misinterpreted as I’m supporting the Leave campaign.”

Rio Ferdinand: "Politics is a team game"

Former England and Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand came out strongly for 'Remain' just hours after his former team-mate Beckham. In a lengthy post on his Facebook page, he explained his reasons why...

Premier League boss: "We'd be less respected for wanting to leave"

Premier League chief Richard Scudamore said Leicester's success had made mugs of everyone

Premier League chief Richard Scudamore said Leicester's success had made mugs of everyonePA Sport

"[Leaving the EU] doesn't seem to sit very well when you travel the world like we do being welcomed because of the fact that we are open for business, open for discussion, and open for cooperation. There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position…

"We would just be, I think, respected less around the world for not wanting to be part of something. Nobody bears the scars more than me of having to go and negotiate in Brussels and try and organise things a little bit in our interests in terms of the European machine.

" Ultimately you can't break away, you can't just pull out, you have to get in and negotiate and try and organise and try and influence."

Times football writer Henry Winter: "Why cast a vote against the people of Europe?"

"European football will continue, but why cast a vote against the people of Europe? It is impossible to forget the warm welcomes, of Juventus laying on lunch in a tram, bringing out an opera singer and old players to entertain visitors from Manchester United. United returned the hospitality at Harry Ramsden’s, the long-standing fish and chips chain.

"It is Porto organising a long evening tasting the local nectar. It is the Swedes politely requesting England fans attending the European Under-21 Championships in 2009 to desist from repeatedly cycling through a nudist colony.

" It is the ex-KGB man at Dynamo Moscow examining foreign press passes suspiciously before Russia’s home leg of their France ’98 play-off against Italy. On realising the group of us were English, he broke into a smile and then asked earnestly: 'How are Halifax Town doing?' On Thursday, I will think of the people of Europe, not the politics."

Fans' views: 'It's different when you come to Europe'

England fans

England fansReuters

"Robert Fawcett has already cast his postal vote for Britain to leave the European Union, but since arriving in France for the European championship he's suffered moments of doubt. Mingling with supporters from many countries in the southern French city of Lyon, with the beer flowing freely and the fans singing and dancing in the streets, the 25-year-old engineer from Grimsby, northern England, is feeling a bit more European.

"He says his vote to leave the EU - the question on which his fellow Britons will vote on Thursday - was based on the plight of his coastal hometown, depressed by the decline of the fishing industry which many locals blame on EU quotas. 'There's not many jobs available around Grimsby and it is a big thing for me, and that's one of the main reasons I voted out. But it's different when you come to Europe and you see everyone together, you do maybe regret it a little bit.'"