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Worldcup Football Loyalty...

By The Equalizer - Fri 16th Jul 2010

Well, I do not profess to be an avid football know it all, nor do I even fully understand the reasons why there should be NO technology within the glorious game.

But I have to be honest, after watching the absolute lack of passion from my home country, England, and then watching Spain progress to World Cup glory - I found my myself torn - Where should my loyalties lie? - With England, or Spain?

I recall lengthy discussions with a very close friend of mine, many months ago, who also lives here in Spain, but doesn’t regard himself as English. Although he was born in England, has a great London accent (Apples & Pears, born within the sound of Bow legs etc…) and pretty much reminds everyone around him how great England is. He regards himself as something as an outsider... Someone with origin, a feeling of belonging, but heritage dictates something else.

Given that his extended family are from the West Indies (great cricket!), he pretty much knew nothing other than England, which I began to realise... He had a point!

With International travel, multi-national relationships (my lady is Spanish too!) and immigration all common in today's age, then clearly any children raised in a situation like this would would feel torn loyalties too.

So where now? Which team does my friend actually 'support', and, as close mates, what can I do to make him feel happier here in Spain given that us expats should try to look out for each other? - Not necessary! His loyalties landed supremely within the England camp - but unfortunately we all know the result of the England World Cup affair!

Whilst I strongly believe his loyalties were never in question, Were his loyalties miss-laid given his heritage? I argue not. Let me tell you why...

I was fortunate enough to watch every match in this World Cup with the exception of the final games of the group stages, where FIFA in their far superior wisdom than ours, played the final games of the group stages at the same time I also had a very understanding boss who allowed us to install a digital TV system so we could watch the games that were played during the working day - it probably helped that he was a very, very big fan of football.

I even had to overcome the issue of having a Welsh colleague, who, rightly or wrongly, supported every team that played against England! Surprising really, given that in the 21st Century, as fellow Brits, we still can’t all get along on very minor issues like the World Cup compared to major issues like climate change or poverty!

(Probobaly the subject for another blog, that one !)

Anyhow, there I was with my mate amongst others, supporting the mother land - not in the full blown England kit I hasten to add, none of us are hooligans, but in this beautiful little town we live (where running water is a luxury) it's best not to live up to the stereotype of all English fans being trouble!

But what transpired was something I never could have predicted...

Over the course of the group stages, after working hours in a quaint local Spanish bar, we were surrounded by expats donning their England football kit - all Friendly, but loud! Very vocal that they were England supporters and had several 'so say' friends around them that were also ‘supposed’ England supporters.

Great - The more support do far away from home the better! - Or so I thought. At every stage throughout the England campaign these 'fans' were there, until unfortunately, England were knocked out in the ‘Last 16’ by a far more (dare I say it…) superior German team. 4 goals to 1 - regardless of the Lampard disallowed goal, we should still have come out fighting, but we did not and Germany clearly out classed the England team.

Now this might upset some, but I was born in Germany! So again, back to loyalties - Where should mine lie?...

Have no fear, I am English through and through, as are my parents and extended family - it was simply a matter of geography at the time when I popped out into the world.

But back to the World Cup. What I witnessed throughout the expat community where I live, after the mighty (cotton wool punching, full of wind, all talk no action...) England where knocked out, was a complete transformation of who these English folk believed in!

Suddenly, they ALL donned the Spanish kit! On top of that, they all had flags in hand, painted Spanish flags on their faces and their vocal Spanish seemed to improve by 200%! Even more disturbing, they all claimed to be lifelong Spanish fans and acted as though they deserved the 'top table' in the bar!

Now some might say ‘hold on a mo…’, while others may be more annoyed by this, but in their defence, we live here in Spain and should try to fit in - some more than most - But to what extent?

I enjoyed every Spanish game, and am only disappointed that England, through their own lack of being able to work together as a team rather than being over-paid, self-righteous individuals, couldn’t meet them in the semi-finals - even if England lost to Spain, at least we would have got that far!

But understand, neither me, my mate nor my other friends ever turned coat! We were still England supporters and never felt compelled to switch our allegiances. Naturally we cheered for Spain, and a Spanish win was quite satisfying given that we live here! Unfortunately I do have a Dutch friend who was quite disappointed, but given he too lives here was very happy for the national side! Good on ya’ Leo!

Annoyingly tonight, the local Spanish were out number 3-1 by the local Expat 'supporters' in my local bar which is usually very Spanish. We only go there because it is not very 'Ex-pat'! So when the cheers were shouted at Spain’s goal, all you could hear were the Expats voices.

So where do my loyalties lie? - With England of course, but I can sleep well at night knowing that I live, work and pay my taxes in Spain! So I am 'allowed' to choose how I live my life here, to enjoy the culture and celebrate the great achievements of Spain, yet keep my dignity and still support the mother land!

Roll on the 2011 Rugby World Cup, much more my game... Loyalty runs deep and thicker than blood, but as fans we never fight, we just have banter!

Comment on this Blog

I have to agree with you that there suddenly seemed to be a lot of English fans supporting Spain in my local bar - probobaly more that the locals. But you have to remember that Spain being Spain, hardly any Spaniard supports a symbol of a unified and national Spain (How many stories have you read in the media about how it was actually the Catalans who won the cup, not Spain ?) - a bit like your Welsh friend supporting every other team that wasn't England, it's all a bit spiteful and petty, but that seems to be one of the reasons why the Spanish were maybe not as vocal in their support as they could be.
Mr Grumpy - Fri, 16th Jul 2010

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