It has nothing to do with the Union

I don’t know why some people get so upset about the fact that some Scottish people don’t like to support England. I find it funny how it has become such a big political issue. Some like to pretend that it shows that the United Kingdom is illegitimate and should be split up into separate nations. What a load of shite.

Here is what Shuggy thinks about it:

Think about it: they tell people from other countries what team they should cheer for and if anyone should disagree, they are accused of racism.

The England Project has a rather dramatic post:

This football kerfuffle is a sorry measure of the health of the Union

…The argument that Scotland is a different country from England and, therefore, there is no reason why Scots. should support an English team is a reasonable one taken in isolation of the British Union. Supporters of the British Union are, in my opinion, on less solid ground. I see it as the duty of British Unionists to support any British team in any sporting competition with their own country naturally taking preference.

That approach is just wrong, as David Farrer pointed out a couple of weeks ago. Scottish, Welsh and (increasingly) English nationalists seem to believe that the rivalry between Scotland and England on the football pitch is a sign that the United Kingdom could not possibly be a single country, and therefore should be scrapped.

So I take it that the rivalry between Rangers and Celtic is evidence that Glasgow is a failed experiment? And a Spurs fan’s resentment of Arsenal means that London should be split up? Nonsense. And if anybody called for the UK to pull out of the EU because of England’s rivalry with Germany, they ought to be laughed out of the planet. There may be legitimate reasons to call for the end of the British Union, but a football match is rather stretching it.

The London-based media probably has a lot to do with the rise of Scottish nationalism in the second half of the 20th century. That maybe shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. This letter in The Economist illustrates the reason:

Before devolution, the impression was that the English did not really notice Scotland, regarding it at best as a kilted extension of the Lake District.

Last week I suggested that England is shoved down your throat in Scotland. Since then I have seen BBC News 24 (a news channel for crying out loud!) insert various ‘Come on En-ger-land’ messages in its countdown sequences. And now that the World Cup itself has come we have had to endure commentators shoehorning England into everything, every which way they can. For instance, here is what ITV’s commentator said during the Argentina–Ivory Coast game:

Well, Argentina have had 20 years of hurt — they’ve only had half of it.

WHAAAAT? Every single thing has to relate to England, doesn’t it?

I once even heard a commentator — I think it was John Motson — say, at the start of a World Cup final, “Of course, this is the final that England could have been in…” That was very perceptive of him. Of course, it was also the final that every single other team in the world could have been in.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the media likes to concentrate on England, given that at least 80% of the potential audience will be living in England. But by the same token I don’t think anybody should be too shocked if Scots decide to support whoever is playing England just as a reaction against smug commentators. And it is possible to have a strong Scottish identity and still be in favour of the UK — infact, I am sure that the majority of my friends are like this.

FIFA and whoever else ever proposes a British football team ought to remember this aswell. Football has nothing to do with the Union.

Update: Iain Dale asks, Will You Support a European Team Against the Americans?

[In the World Cup today] I will be supporting the Americans without any hesitation. Yet when the Ryder Cup is played later in the year I will be shouting for the Europeans, partly I suppose because there will be British golfers on the European team. But it’s still a total inconsistency on my part. But isn’t that the beauty of sport? There’s no logic to sporting affinity at all.


  1. Frankly I think this issue shows just how many people do not view Britain as a single nation, a point of view that is arguably entirely correct. Further, it shows just how loosely some people have bought into the Union. UPDATE: doctorveeposts indicating that he believes that the above is indeed unreasonable: That approach is just wrong, as David Farrer pointed out a couple of weeks ago. Scottish, Welsh and (increasingly) English nationalists seem to believe that the rivalry between

  2. 採点 [world cup] Weekend Hijinks Mundial 2006 em directo… em ASCII!It has nothing to do with the Union Cahill und Aloisi besiegen Japan 3-1 Vs Japan Aus 3:Jap1 !!! USA 0, Czech Republic 1

  3. Regarding the News programs going on about England, it even pisses me off and I’m English and a footy fan. A bunch of nob-heads who seemingly know sod all about the game talk complete tripe for half the news broadcast. I’ll watch the games, read a paper or look at the web if I want to know what’s going on in the world cup. It’s no wonder so many people get sick of the footie when Johnny No-Brain News reporter yaks on about nothing insightful or interesting whatsoever all the friggin time.

  4. I was watching a match yesterday when the commentator remarked that the players were playing in front of a “sellout crowd”. Just as I was thinking “no shit, it’s the World Cup, not some sunday league”, the other commentator said pretty much just what I was thinking. My conclusion isn’t that these guys are “smug”, just that they will say any old crap just to fill the silence.