Commissioner Jan Figel, in charge of Education, Training, Culture and Youth which includes the General Directorate of Education and Culture which also comprises a Sports Unit, today in a specially convened press conference announced that the EU will participate in this year’s European Football Championship (Euro 2008) with one integrated team, instead of each member country representing only itself. The opposing teams will thus be limited to Turkey, Switzerland, Croatia and Russia. The UK and Denmark have opted out of the participation in the common team. Sweden has not opted out but has nevertheless no intention to participate in the EU team. Those countries, except the non-qualified UK and Denmark, may also participate on an individual basis.
Since the European Flag and Anthem have been struck from the Lisbon Treaty, the EU team will be introduced by a minute of silence. In the event of the team winning the gold medal the national anthems of all participating member states will be played at the ceremony. Since nobody seems to know the Belgian National Anthem it will probably not be played with the others.
In a last minute compromise in the Council of Ministers, Poland agreed to join the team in exchange of a guaranteed participation of at least three Polish players in the matches. In addition Holy Mass will be said at the beginning of each match.