Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

World Cup: Why should I support England?

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

England manager Roy Hodgson (C) and captain Steven Gerrard (R) prepare to board a plane leaving for the 2014 Brazil World Cup on June 1, 2014 in Luton, England.  (Photo by The FA via Getty Images)
England manager Roy Hodgson (C) and captain Steven Gerrard (R) prepare to board a plane leaving for the 2014 Brazil World Cup on June 1, 2014 in Luton, England. (Photo by The FA via Getty Images)

So, who are you supporting in the World Cup? A cousin of mine, domiciled in Australia due to his work as an engineer, asked a selection of his workmates would they be 'follying' the Socceroos in Brazil.

One asked him if that's the game Shielas play. A charming bunch.

Me? I'll be supporting England. Nah! Only joking. Of course not. Why would I?

It's around about this time approaching a major soccer tournament that some high-minded social commentators choose to worry that old scab of the lack of support in Ireland for the English soccer team.

Some writers, many themselves devotees of English soccer teams, ask how fully-grown men can stand in the polyester of Man United or Liverpool and cheer for the likes of Phil Jones, Stevie Gerrard or whoever else, but can't bring themselves to support them when 'free lions' are on their chest.

Such people, the thinkers say, are 'immature.' And here's me thinking that wearing a polyester jersey in the first place was proof enough.

They miss the point, just like some miss the point when they say that Luis Suarez, Jose Mourinho and Christiano Ronaldo occasionally fail as 'role models.' Don't children have parents and guardians for that sort of thing, instead of a one-dimensional pixellated figures they see only on television?

No, the point about choosing to support the current England team, or not, is that all sporting support is rooted in irrationality.

Devotion to a team or a club has nothing to do with logic, and prejudices are allowed to flourish.

That's the beauty of escape, the beauty of sport.

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