To be honest, I couldn’t care less about England’s World Cup

I love the World Cup. I love the skill, the passion and the excitement of watching the world’s best players compete to win the greatest prize in the world’s most popular sport, and I love the fans who travel thousands of miles to support their national side, even though most of them will return home disappointed.

I appreciate that football isn’t everyone’s game, and that the next four weeks will see an even greater television saturation of the sport than we have become accustomed to throughout the Premier League era. But for those of us who love this most beautiful of games, the first World Cup in Africa can’t come around quickly enough.

What I can’t buy into is the interminable and predictable hype about the current England squad. It is, of course, now traditional for our tabloid newspapers to ask the question “Is this England’s year?” as a precursor to seemingly endless wall-to-wall speculation about the team’s chances, alongside meaningless examinations of “injury worries”, off-field controversies, and the spending habits of ‘The WAGS’.

I have to be honest, I couldn’t really care less about the England team’s chances in South Africa this year. If you offered me a choice between an England World Cup win or an end to Arsenal’s five-year trophy drought, then I’d start dusting out the silverware cabinet at Ashburton Grove. Club football is what I watch week in week out, and the standard is higher than anything produced by the England national side. Add to that the unlovely Cole/Terry/Lampard element to the side and I find it difficult to see myself rooting for them as my all-conquering heroes.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not anti-English, nor am I a Cornish/Welsh/Scottish/Irish nationalist. As it happens, I think historical nationalism is just about the most pointless exercise anyone can engage in. I don’t care what your bit of land is called, or who did what to it several hundred years ago, and I’m not expecting any apologies from anyone for the brutal acts of long-dead kings that may or may not have affected the corner of the world I happened to be born in. Cultural nationalism – the preservation of identity through language, the arts and so on – is a different beast entirely, and is yet another attraction of the World Cup (and one of the reasons I normally end up rooting for the bright orange flash of Holland as the tournament progresses).

There are all manner of reasons why England probably won’t win the World Cup, foremost of which is the fact that there are around half a dozen other teams who quite simply have better players. Wayne Rooney is certainly the best player England have, but is that really going to be enough to overcome the challenges presented by Fernando Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi and so on? England will probably do what they normally do: outperform the fairly average talent within the squad, reach the quarter-finals, be knocked out on penalties by a team which has actually bothered to practice spot-kicks, and slink home to a kicking from the tabloids (all of whom built the team up way too far in the first place).

I will be in the happy position of not being the least bit surprised about such an outcome. I will also (probably) have the pleasure of watching the continuing involvement of Argentina, Brazil, France, Spain and – here’s hoping – Holland. I can’t wait.

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6 comments

  1. You are being disingenuous in your stereotyping of ‘Cornish nationalists’ and I think you are fully aware of it.

    More political points scoring rather than open hearted honesty is no surprise from a member of ‘the we oppose ourselves’ Con Dem coalition.

    Don’t care about the England team but you blog about them. Don’t like nasty nationalists yet you support Cornish devolution, recognition and language.

    Is any one else sick of two-faced politics?

    1. “You are being disingenuous in your stereotyping of ‘Cornish nationalists’ and I think you are fully aware of it.”

      I don’t believe I have stereotyped Cornish nationalism – I made the distinction between Celtic nationalism and anti-Englishness. I think Cornish nationalism (on the face of it, at least) is more about ‘Cultural’ nationalism than ‘Cornwall for the Cornish’ which puts it strongly in contrast to English nationalism, for example. At least I would hope that’s the case.

      “More political points scoring rather than open hearted honesty is no surprise from a member of ‘the we oppose ourselves’ Con Dem coalition.”

      This is one of the rare blog posts in which I have NOT attempted to score any political points! I don’t understand your persistence with the notion of ‘we oppose ourselves’. The situation in Cornwall is one which is decided by the circumstances here – there has been no direction from elsewhere. I believe the current Cornwall Council administration is wrong in a number of areas but to support it for national reasons (as you appear to be arguing for) really would be disingenuous.

      “Don’t care about the England team but you blog about them. Don’t like nasty nationalists yet you support Cornish devolution, recognition and language.”

      The post is about the World Cup, which I very much care about, and which is about more to me than the tabloid obsession with the current group of England players.

      And no, I don’t like nasty nationalists, but please don’t try to make out that I have placed you or anyone else from the Cornish movement into that category. I do believe that the most basic form of ‘historical’ nationalism is fundamentally divisive – it labels people against their wishes and denies progress. But, as I believe I’ve made very clear, I support anyone’s right to their national identity and culture, in addition to decision-making at a more local level – if you see that as two-faced rather than a nuanced viewpoint, then please accept my apologies.

  2. I think you’re being slightly harsh, Nich. I think this is a well written piece which just about sums up my feelings about the hype surrounding these celebrities. I am not going to get involved with all the Cornish nationalism stuff, however.

  3. Wow! I’ve never seen such hatred directed to such an innocent post. I have no such desire to offened no-one, so I will happily state that the English, and obviously I’m being general here, are very touchy about their nationality; you only have to look at the stick Andy Murray received for joking, that’s right joking, that he hoped Engkand lose at Euro 2008.

    Stop wearing your flag when you travel to foreign countries; it makes you look vulgar.

  4. England will most probably do what they always do. Stutter through the qualifying group, a couple of dodgy extra time winners in the next phase. Semis… Sending off (I’m predicting John Terry this year) followed by a real backs against the wall performance, out on penalties and home as heroes having “been robbed” by Johnny Foreigner.

    I love the World Cup but being Welsh I have never seen my nation (principality) qualify and probably won’t in my lifetime unless Bale stays fit and Giggsy has had eleven kids that we don’t know about.

    I shall enjoy the tournament for what it is and hopefully not get too distracted by the circus. Then look forward to receiving a crate of left over vuvuzelas to get my cunning plan to save blighty back on track!

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