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England’s Dark Side

July 14, 2021

There is an obvious side to England’s loss in the final of the European Football Championships. The less obvious however, came before the match had even started. In fact it came before the tournament had begun – and it goes back a very long way.

England lost to a fine Italian side, well-versed in how to win football games, how to respond to an early blow and to regain control of a match. How to sustain pressure on an opponent until they crack; as England finally did with the equalising goal and then the added pressure of the penalty shoot-out. And yes, also in the less desirable aspects of gamesmanship – sometimes referred to the dark arts of football.

This Italy side however, were light years away from the worst in this respect. Mistimed challenges, shirt-pulling and plain bad tackles happen every week both in England at all levels of the game as well as elsewhere. No, England did not lose because Italy fielded a dirty team – Italy didn’t. England lost because Italy was better. It is that simple.

But this defeat was not a tragedy. It was not anything near that. The players and their manager, Gareth Southgate did far, far, better than previous English teams have, both in this tournament and at the last World Cup. He and they should be applauded.

The real sadness lies in what happened before the game began as significant numbers of young men tried to smash their way into the stadium to watch the game without tickets; the real sadness lies in the way these young men have been brought up – with a sense of self-entitlement that persuades them they can do what they like and use violence to get it. The real sadness lies with a country so badly-led by its elected politicians that it has become divided, unthinking and has become so over many years; easily led down a blind alley. The real sadness lies in the anonymous, inadequate people that throw insults other people because of their skin colour.

The real sadness lies in what this country has become.

England and Ireland are bidding to host the World Cup. On this showing, despite the achievements of its football team, this country does not deserve to. It deserves very little. And that really is sad.

© KJM Today, 2021

Image © The Guardian


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