Anyone but England?

Is it just me, or is there something particularly unpleasant about English football fans?

Of course with my football affiliations (Swansea City) I am thoroughly biased, but cycling through Parkers Piece where the big screen was beaming the match against Paraguay, I was alarmed by the latent aggression that seemed to be present in the red, white and blue war-painted chants of 'Engelrand'. Of course there is something unsavoury in all forms of nationalism, but whereas the patriotism of the Celtic nations seems to revel in the sense of loss - lost kingdoms, lost lands, lost languages, lost loves - English allegiance seems to revel in the history of bringing of such loss to other nations, and so of keeping the world at our feet.

Maybe it's just that I don't see much to be proud of in being English.

And of course it all comes back to politics.

Who benefits from the fact that the whole nation is overtaken by support for 'our' boys? Not the kids spending their pocket money on cheap World Cup tat, not the fans fleeced by touts who suddenly find common cause with their bosses, cheering together for the team before finding they've been back-stabbed by their new-found friends, and certainly not those stuck out in Iraq as Blair seeks to use the tournament to foster a veneer of one nation feel good factor.

Am I a killjoy? Very possibly. Do I just like to stand out as being different from the crowd? Probably. Am I jealous of England's apparent success? Less likely.

For what does genuinely upset me is that way that normally intelligent people, who understand how the world works and know who's being screwed over by who, can wrap themselves in the flag, a blood-stained flag which not only stands for the oppression of peoples right around the world but also helps to keep the flag-wavers themselves in their place.

No wonder, despite the fighting that erupted at some of the screenings of the match, the establishment are desperate for us to support Beckham, Owen et al. And perhaps it's possible for you to understand that I, a genuine football fan who only 2 weeks ago spent over £100 to see my team miss out on promotion on penalties, feel deeply uneasy about the whole thing.

Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T, 10.6.06

Useful links

Kick Racism out of football here

Show Racism the Red Card here

Scream comatose about this rant on our message boards here