No need to cheer for England

 

A chara, – Your columnist Finn McRedmond’s “both sides do it” articles are getting increasingly tiresome (“The anyone-but-the-English crowd look exactly like the Brexiteers”,Opinion & Analysis, July 15th).

Somehow the vituperative bile heaped by some Brexiteers on Ireland and the Irish has now been counterbalanced by Irish soccer fans supporting Italy in the European final. Many of those same fans probably support Manchester United, or Liverpool, and welcomed Jack Charlton’s stint as Irish team manager.

It wasn’t Irish soccer fans who sought to incorporate the English team’s success in getting to the final into the Brexiteer “Global Britain” project or criticised those same footballers for “taking the knee” against racism.

It isn’t Irish fans who have gained a reputation for rioting, public disorder, and disrespect for opposing teams and anthems.

Finn McRedmond asks, “Who knew so many in Ireland kept their Italian identity hidden for so long?” Could it be that Italian football has had its admirers everywhere for many a long year, and that we are now allied with Italy as part of the EU? Could sports fans everywhere not feel aggrieved at the blatant dive that won England their place in the final? Sterling hasn’t dropped so fast since the Brexit vote.

But in Finn McRedmond’s world, everything has to be binary. You are an extreme Irish nationalist if you don’t support the English football team. She claims that such extreme displays of nationalism are indicative of “a nation [not] at ease with itself or its direction of travel”.

That may be a perceptive comment about Brexiteer England, but it says nothing about Ireland.

We don’t define ourselves with respect to England, one way or the other, anymore. – Yours, etc,

FRANK SCHNITTGER,

Blessington,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Finn McRedmond draws a parallel between some Irish football fans who prefer to cheer England’s opponents regardless of who they are playing and our country’s wider and more ongoing enthusiasm for condemning Britain’s Brexiteer outlook.

It appears disingenuous to draw an analogy between the two. Brexit is a complex, multidimensional process with a tendency to throw up unpalatable and costly political surprises. It’s serious business.

The tendency for Irish people to cheer for whoever England are playing in football can be seen as a long-running but relatively harmless prank, often best enjoyed in the atmosphere of a convivial pub.

It’s a bit of devilment where David (in Ireland’s case Paddy) gives Goliath (England’s George) a firm but fair shoulder charge to remind him he’s in a game. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL

CULLEN,

Sandycove,

Co Dublin.