England 'would reach quarter finals of life expectancy tournament', says study
England would get knocked out in the quarter finals of Euro 2016 if the tournament was based on health statistics and not football matches won, a new study has found.
That would be a stage further than Northern Ireland and Wales, who would falter at the last 16 stage, according to research by Durham University.
Switzerland, with a life expectancy for men of 81, would narrowly win the final if health figures were the criteria for success, concluded Clare Bambra, Professor of Public Health Geography and Director of the Centre for Health and Inequalities Research.
She ranked the male life expectancy of the teams that have qualified for Euro 2016, and after the Swiss and Iceland were tied, she found Switzerland sneaked through on a penalty shoot-out because of a higher life expectancy for women.
The research aimed to show that governments across Europe should learn from each other 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 worse health in eastern European countries compared to those in the west. For example, in Switzerland, as winners of group A, baby boys are expected to live up to 81 years old whilst in Ukraine, who finish bottom of group C, it is just 66.
Closer to home, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a male life expectancy of 78 years, would get as far as the final round of 16 but miss out on the quarter finals.
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."
She added: "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."
Bambra worked on a similar study of ranking Premier League teams by their local health scores to show how where people live affects their life expectancy.