It’s Coming Home

So, Euro 2020 is underway, and the immediate focal point will doubtless be the knee-taking that will almost certainly overshadow our chance-taking.

We will therefore be showing the red card to racism but getting fervently behind our respective teams, right?

Now that raises an uncomfortable question regarding our own comfort with football patriotism.

If racism is the prejudice by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, what is patriotism?

Patriotism is the devotion to, and vigorous support for, one’s country.

Neither relies on factual evidence, just blind passion fuelled by the perception of difference.

While the definition of patriotism focuses inwardly, both patriotism and racism are zero-sum propositions. Both make gains that correspond directly to the losses of other groups.

If you press for racial superiority, a minority group loses out to the same degree. If England beat Germany (guffaw), the Germans lose.

Both rely on the support for ‘people like us’ for the sole reason that they are like us. In many senses, patriotism launders xenophobia.

Let’s watch how many supporters whip themselves into a frenzy during this tournament, supporting a team for reasons none other than national difference. Let’s also see how many of those get bent out of shape with regard to the knee-taking escapade.

The prevalence of that conflict might help is to appreciate one of the reasons why the battle against systemic racism is such an uphill task.

Racism is simply an expression of intolerance that lies within many who are blissfully unaware of its nature but who otherwise celebrate it with a ready enthusiasm.

Football patriotism is racism’s pretty cousin.

It’s coming home, but sadly not to enough of us.

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