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Why we'd fail to make it to the quarter-finals if Euro 2016 was based on health

By Laura Abernethy

Published 24/05/2016

Northern Ireland would get knocked out in the last 16 of the Euro finals if the tournament was based on health statistics and not matches won, a study has found.

England would get a stage further, to the quarter-finals, according to research carried out by Durham University.

Switzerland, with a higher life expectancy, would narrowly win the final, professor of public health geography and director of the Centre for Health and Inequalities Research Clare Bambra said.

She ranked the male life expectancy of the teams which have qualified for Euro 2016, and after the Swiss and Iceland were tied, she found Switzerland sneaked through on a penalty shootout because of a higher life expectancy for women.

The research aimed to show that governments across Europe should learn from one another and share best practice to narrow the differences in health scores.

Men in Switzerland and Iceland are on average expected to live up to the age of 81.

England, with a male life expectancy of 79 years, would be winners of their group by beating Russia (63 years), Slovakia (72 years) and Wales (78 years), but losing to Iceland (81 years) in the quarter-finals.

The scores also reveal a clear east-west gap, with much worse health in eastern European countries compared to those countries in the west.

For example, in Switzerland, as winners of group A, baby boys are expected to live up to 81, while in Ukraine, who finish bottom of group C, it is just 66.

Wales, with a male life expectancy of 78 years, would also get knocked out in the last 16.

Prof Bambra said: "What this analysis shows is that where you live can kill you, but what is more important is that places can be changed for the better through the decisions made at local, regional and national level within countries.

"I hope that by using football we can help to highlight these unacceptable differences in health between European countries, as well as those within them."

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