It was last month that The Players’ Tribune published a very thoughtful and widely lauded piece by Gareth Southgate entitled ‘Dear England’ in which he addressed issues such as patriotism and racism. “I have never believed that we should just ‘stick to football’,” he wrote, supporting, for example, his players’ decision to take the knee before games. “It is their duty,” he argued, “to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice”.
Commenting on the piece in The Financial Times this week, under the headline 'Can Gareth Southgate deliver both victory and progressive patriotism?', Gideon Rachman revealed that the England manager's ever-increasing popularity and profile isn't going down too well with the more hard-core elements of the Conservative party.
“Some seem to believe that Southgate is becoming a tool of deep Woke,” he wrote, “with one Tory strategist telling me that the England manager’s patriotism essay was “suspiciously well-written”.”
Where’s that face-in-hands emoji when you need it?
Quote of the day
“God is Italian.” - Corriere dello Sport’s front page on Wednesday. They could be right too.
By the numbers
10: That's how many major tournament finals Italy have now reached, second only to Germany (14). As the Opta Joe people put it, "pedigree".
Reddest Cheeks of the Week
They, you’d imagine, belonged to Ulster Unionist John Taylor, aka Lord John Kilclooney, who took to the tweet machine after the anthems were played in the Italy v Spain game.
“Amazing that every member of the Italian team sang its National Anthem whereas every single member of the Spanish team remained totally silent. Not one sang the Spanish Anthem!”
The gist of the several gazillion replies he received: “THERE ARE NO WORDS!” And they meant it in more ways than one.
Word of mouth
“As for Harry Kane - he could come straight from Agincourt, with that air of a medieval knight, with strong jaw and noble forehead. And in the words of Shakespeare’s Henry V: ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’” - Bel Mooney writing in the Daily Mail. Beyond that, we’re saying nothing.
Reporter: “You’ll be aware of the phrase ‘it’s coming home’ - what would it mean to you guys to stop it from coming home?”
Kasper Schmeichel: “Has it ever been home? Have you ever won it?”
Scots against England in Westminster
Denmark might have been surprised to hear that they received some meaty support in the House of Commons on Tuesday, although perhaps less surprised to learn that it came from a Scottish National Party MP. Step forward, Brendan O’Hara:
“Hopefully Scotland’s participation in UK general elections will be a thing consigned to the history books that children will learn alongside Robert Burns, William Shakespeare, the moon landings, and how England came so close to winning the European Championships.”