Belfast Telegraph

Why these Northern Irish men and women are cheering on England at the World Cup

By Christine Carrigan

A leading Northern Ireland women's footballer said she will be cheering on Gareth Southgate's side tonight.

Simone Magill, who plays for the national side and Everton Ladies FC, said it was an easy decision. "Yes, I am watching the World Cup every night and of course I am rooting for England," she said. "They are the only home team left in the game, so it is obvious who to back."

Cool FM presenter Pete Snodden will also be lending his support to England tonight.

"Northern Ireland is my team and I am obviously gutted that they didn't make it," he said.

"I want to see England do well. The only national team left, it keeps my interest in the tournament. But there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming backing of the team this time around, there is no official song or anything.

"I said at the beginning that England would at least make the semi-finals and I stand by that."

Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong, who played in two World Cups, is also hoping to see England progress: "I like to see them do well but I don't usually support them. But Spain and Germany are out now, so it is who I am backing, but I would also like to see Switzerland or someone place too."

David Hassan, professor of sport policy and management at Ulster University, explained what has made other UK regions back away from supporting England: "Sporting occasions have long been vehicles for proclaiming and displaying collective and national identities. Thus witnessing an English defeat, particularly in football, a game they claim to have invented, has added importance for their compatriots throughout the UK."

Belfast Telegraph


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