After an excessive hype, the England team suffered a devastating loss, which has become a feature of modern international football matches witnessed by many people around the world. In this regard, the 2020 European Cup final did not disappoint.
“It’s going home,” the British media and authorities declared. Even weathermen were drafted into the army and compared with the weather conditions during the 1966 World Cup final, which was the last time the England team entered the final game of a major international championship.
I watched the game with trepidation, initially feeling desperate after taking the lead in England, and happy when it was equalized in Italy. The penalty shootout that decided the game was also full of pressure. It was not until the last kick of the game that I was relieved. Italy is the champion, England twitches in self-humiliation that is too familiar.
Soon after, there were reports that racist mobs of white British fans attacked Italians and British people of color participating in the game. Three young black British players who missed the penalty also faced terrible abuse online, prompting the country’s Football Association and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to issue a statement of condemnation.
In many societies, football always seems to inspire the best and the worst. But why am I, a Kenyan, watching Euro2020 thousands of kilometers away, so I am thrown into the suffering of the United Kingdom? British fans are not the only people in the world who behave nasty. Racism is widespread in European clubs and international football circles, and fan violence has never been far away.
This kind of behavior always breeds resentment, but the seemingly unique British blend of arrogance, sense of power, and empty rants, coupled with the history of global society’s domination and abuse, will provoke a special hostility. “England’s criteria are different from those of other countries,” the Irish writer Li Heli pointed out in a 2018 article on the origins of accusations of arrogance at the World Cup in England.
It seems that every year, the world is stunned by the British breasts because of the recent defeat of the England team and 1966 (the country’s last major international football trophy). This is often almost comical and triggers ridicule. For example, on the front page of the Scottish pro-independence daily newspaper National, published on the front page of the Italian manager Roberto Mancini as the Scottish hero William Wallace, begging him: “Save us Roberto, You are our last hope (we can’t let them quarrel about this for 55 years!)”
However, in many cases, this obsession with the British who won football trophies may also be seen as a dark confusion of unfulfilled fate-this is an extension of the British’s natural rule of the world. Of course, the same is true for the story of Brazil and its fans having a heart attack after losing the World Cup. But Brazil did not travel the world, showing itself as the pinnacle of human achievement while cruelly plundering society. Judging the British through their historical lens.
Other former colonial powers also participated in Euro2020. The Spanish, French, Belgians and Portuguese have the same bad history, and it can be said that their behavior is equally bad.
However, their ability to express their voices in today’s global media is much smaller than that of the British, and the British and their American cousins can outperform anyone. The media megaphone means that people all over the world, especially those in the English-speaking world, are constantly being attacked by British and British self-portraits, which have repeatedly run counter to their rule and colonial life experience.
In this case, even seemingly mundane and harmless practices aimed at establishing national sentiment can be ominous. Take the slogan “It’s Going Home” as an example. This is a poem from a self-deprecating song composed by two British comedians in 1996. For many Britons, this is the kind of harmless slogan that others use when they call their favorite party the best in the world. For example, Greece chose “Welcome Home” as its official motto when hosting the 2004 Olympic Games.
However, outside of England, what people hear is very different. “For many people around the world, especially those who are still experiencing the post-colonial legacy,” Hurley wrote, “The English football team is [the British] status. Unsurprisingly, when England appeared on the world stage, some people didn’t like it that much. When England set out to bring something back to its rightful place… well, you can see that this can cause one or two problems. “
Following the global “black man’s fate” movement, along with demands to reassess the history of enslavement and colonial oppression, slogans such as “It’s Going Home” may make people feel completely deaf. In the context of a country that resolutely refuses to re-examine its past behavior and seems to beautify the “empire”, they sound worse, and its political leaders encourage fans to boo against players who are systematically injustices.
The irony is that, unlike Italy, England sent a more racially diverse team in the game. All but four players in the final were immigrants. As Clint Smith said in The Atlantic Monthly, this team is very different from the all-white team that won the World Cup more than half a century ago. In many ways, its ethnic composition is different from what it represents. The vast majority of white countries. This is a team accepted by many marginalized minority communities in England as evidence of their tolerance, belonging and contribution.
Although Smith is neither British nor living in England, he said: “Maybe I cheer for England less, and more for the kind of future represented by the new generation of players.”
A Tariq Jenner on Twitter put it more figuratively: “I want England to win because I want this young anti-racist team to stick to their beliefs, and those who don’t People who are booed and insulted and less fortunate than themselves can win. Not because I think this raining country small racist dumpster fire is worth it.”
As a person, I feel sympathy for the English players. Their young shoulders bear the unfair burden of national history and the hope of redemption. However, despite this heavy responsibility, they still made it a thriller for games and tournaments. Hats off to them.
However, as a Kenyan, I will not secretly enjoy the kind-hearted gloat I shared in the British plight and inevitable self-abuse, and wait for the World Cup where we can start again next year.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.