The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is very far from being united. Currently, it is politically divided over Brexit, but territorially divided over football. ABE (Anyone but England) is on the lips and in the minds of many Scottish, Welsh, and to some extent Northern Irish people
What is the root of this? Why are the citizens of the other member countries of the Union reticent to root for England? What is there in this World Cup tournament that is causing the United Kingdom to be anything but united?
The Scots and Welsh sneer and scorn the Three Lions, the English football team’s motif. This is in fact the FA’s logo which has appeared on England’s team since 1872 when they played their first international match, against Scotland finishing in a nil – nil draw! This crest goes back to the 12th century when it was carried into battle to inspire English warriors. And by England’s results, it seems it inspired Southgate’s Boys up until the quarter final, when they painfully lost against Croatia 2 – 1.
The United Kingdom is anything but united. We have Scotland who called for their Independence referendum in 2014, the NO narrowly winning. Yet, Nicola Sturgeon’s public praise for England’s men raised eyebrows. But politics is politics and it is far from sensible for Scotland’s first minister and leader of the SNP (Scottish National Party) to appear anti-English. This is not a new phenomenon. Scotland’s abjection at the 1978 World Cup was widly cited as key to a failed bid for devolution the following year. However, such consequences did not prevent the SNP to deliberately waste time in Westminister Parliament on 3rd July preventing English MPs from enjoying the second- round shoot-out over Colombia.
It would be interesting to know now that “football is not coming home” and there will be no hoisting of the golden chalice, how BBC Radio announcer, Belfast born Stephen Nolan still feels after tweeting, “Never have I felt so English” in the early stages of the tournament. Or BBC Radio Wales feel after tweeting “Are we all English now?” as England progressed to the quarter-finals.
I can only presume that the Welsh man from Bangor who flew the colours of England’s rivals is still proud and the ABE sentiment will continue to reign in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.