Cheering for England?

 

A chara, – Finn McRedmond’s comparison between those who supported “anyone but England” in the Euros and Brexiteers is off the mark (“The anyone-but-the-English crowd look exactly like the Brexiteers”, Opinion & Analysis, July 15th). First, it inflates the significance of the “anyone but England” attitude, which while sometimes coming from an uncharitable place, is relatively harmless. Brexiteers, meanwhile, have supported a decision that not only means dire economic consequences for both islands, but shows a callous indifference to the safety of Northern Ireland, as well as to an international project founded to prevent another major European war on the principle that one should care about people in other countries. To compare that to people supporting Italy largely for the craic at the expense of no English person’s safety or wellbeing is ridiculous. Second, one need not assume that the anyone-but-England attitude is due only to the “800 years of oppression” cliché, when the behaviour of England’s fans, press, and politicians in the last few months is justification enough. There were definite strains of aggression, arrogance, contempt for fair play, and disrespect for other countries running through the English fans throughout the tournament, evidenced for example in the booing of other anthems and the shining of a laser in Kasper Schmeichel’s face.

This preemptively triumphalist and macho attitude was encouraged by the press and the political establishment, who might have used it to further inflate the English nationalist ego had England won, a prospect which strikes some not unreasonable dread into many in Ireland.

I am not a hardline Irish nationalist, and indeed in the absence of all this macho posing and hype during the Women’s World Cup, I actually supported the England team.

I agree that the Irish obsession with England is frequently regrettable (and not helped by phenomena such as the amount of coverage this paper gave the England team, even when there were still 23 others in the competition). In this case, however, I think the relief felt by many Irish people at Italy’s win has some justification. There are many things to be appreciated about England, but I’m afraid its general attitude to major men’s international football tournaments is not one of them. – Is mise,

AOIBH NÍ CHROIMÍN,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Despite Finn McRedmond’s brave attempt to counter the “anyone but England” hysteria of the last six weeks in Ireland, a quick look at the comments below the online version of her article would suggest she has her work cut out.

We’ve always avoided the worst of this over the years by going away somewhere sunny for the knockout stages of the Euros and World Cup.

This year on a pretty Greek island we watched England beat our old rivals Germany 2-0 in a small bar rammed with supporters from both countries. At the final whistle the German supporters applauded our team,we applauded their sportsmanship, then everyone resumed lubricating Anglo-German relations and making jokes about penalties. The joke was eventually on us of course. It always is. But then football is a funny old game that brings out the best and worst in people. In the unlikely event of Ireland qualifying for next year’s Qatar World Cup, we will be lending our support to the boys in green, as most England fans always do. It is, after all, just a game, and we have more that unites than separates us. — Yours,etc,

KEN ANDREW,

Cobh,

Co Cork.

Sir, – There was widespread jubilation here in Scotland at Italy’s victory. – Yours, etc,

ANDY JOHNSON,

Glasgow.