Fintan O’Toole: Southgate’s properly patriotic football team has wrong-footed Boris Johnson

Gareth Southgate’s team chose decency and dignity over the toxic ‘Ingerland’ identity

People take the knee during a demonstration in support of Manchester United striker and England player Marcus Rashford in  Withington on July 13th. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

People take the knee during a demonstration in support of Manchester United striker and England player Marcus Rashford in Withington on July 13th. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

After Brexit, there was always going to be a battle for the soul of England. What was not quite so predictable is that it would be fought on the football pitch.

When England fans sang their mantra “Football’s coming home”, they probably did not want to consider how difficult that four-letter word – home – has become for their country. Its meaning is bitterly disputed and the national team has, like it or not, become a major player in that contest.

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