After the last few days’ flagweaving hangover (with more to come); after watching like so many others the game the other night; and lastly, after observing once again the undeniable inability to reach world-level quality by the English team – whose lacklustre performance not even the admirable heart and dedication to the cause of victory, nor the advent of a reasonably paid national coach could redeem – a consideration dawned on the perfectly football-ignorant person that I am: what if, after all, the problem rested with the fact that England is a small – numerically speaking – nation?
It could really be down to numbers, not just on football tradition. Aren’t the 4 semifinalists all demographically big (which means a large reservoir of individuals with potential talent to nurture and cultivate)? This could explain why there is such a disproportionate discrepancy between England’s political and cultural international stature and her football paucity.
If that is the case, instead of shopping compulsively and hopelessly for ridiculously overpaid international coaches all she needs to do is to integrate with the rest of the British nations and become eventually a football Team GB. The extra energies of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, themselves international near non-entities in football terms, surely could not do any harm. Not only this could serve well against sectarianism: it might well be that the collective frustration could end once and for all and a “supernational” british team finally get a presence in world football commensurate to the nation’s world relevance (that the latter may also be seriously on the wane, despite all the recent pageantry, it is another matter).
In a word, what I’m trying to say is that the very same major international tournament that has perennially eluded England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales could be within the reach of Britain. As the country that invented football, she owes it to herself. And let’s not forget the invaluable symbolic leverage of a such a mythmaking move, one which could impede the seemingly inexorable weakening of the ties with the above mentioned nations, Scotland in primis. But what do I know about football? All I know is that nationalism is crap.