These days, I don’t like football as much as I used to. It must be the first time in my life that I haven’t experienced the feeling of excitement and suspense as the World Cup explodes into action. With England’s first game up against the USA, I had no choice but to go out proudly wearing my Scotland t-shirt. The crowds that had descended upon central London looked pretty confused.
As I stood outside a bar in Leicester Square at half-time, my skepticism in footballing culture was proved correct. As some Hare Krishna’s walked past, they were greeted with chants of “Who are ya? Who are ya?” and “Sit down shut up! Sit down shut up!” Really, the biggest possible criticism you could have of Hare Krishna’s is “they’re a bit crazy”, but I thought the treatment was a bit harsh for people who give out hot meals for free and meditate in a temple. It was particularly ironic to see one of the drunk fans shouting “Scum!” as the robed monks continued on their way.
This is my point – the line between nationalism and racism is too thin. Any nation that England loses to, and the list is extremely long, immediately becomes the target of the hatred of millions. Margaret Thatcher would probably have declared war over a dodgy penalty decision. I don’t see any reason to be proud of our flag – the English flag that has represented centuries of imperialism and colonialism for millions of people across the world. The same flag now being expropriated by the thugs of the so-called “English Defence League”, who unfortunately cancelled their march through Tower Hamlets this week-end. Unfortunate, because it would have been the end of the EDL.
With the clash of the two world-ruiners a big disappointment, I was pleased to see that England’s second encounter offered me a lot more choice for support, in the form of Algeria. A trip to Edgware Road was the order of the day, and I’ve never been so happy to see a 0-0 draw. My brother had also just finished his GCSE exams, so there were two reasons to celebrate. I sounded my car horn in appreciation for most of the journey home.
The next day, I was back in the area for a festival on Golborne Road. The police had a tent inappropriately set-up, teaching kids how to fingerprint themselves. As Lupe Fiasco would say, “give ’em gum, give ’em guns, get ’em young, give ’em fun!” George Orwell would be turning in his grave.
The Metropolitan Police… yet another reason not to be proud of my country. Or as Lupe concludes:
“…they ain’t living properly /
break ’em off a little democracy /
turn their whole culture to a mockery /
give ’em Coca-Cola for their property…”
As if the World Cup hadn’t given me enough food-for-thought, I then heard the news that thousands of South Africans had been evicted from their homes and relocated to Blikkiesdorp, which the residents have described as a concentration camp, to make way for the construction of new football stadiums. So, it seems that Coca-Cola will be the only real victors in the “tournament of dreams”.