Tribes and Alliances in the Beautiful Game; Football Is Asked to Hold So Much - from National Identity to Gender Aspirations, That It Begins to Look Futile for Any Mere Politician to Be Able to Deal with the Troubles
Wilson, Dr David, The Birmingham Post (England)
There are so many things to talk about this week that it's difficult to decide.
Everything from how the WI got to Mr Blair, to the tragic assassination of one of our diplomats in Athens; or from the decision of a House of Commons committee to recommend the end of 'double jeopardy' - which means that at present you can't be tried for the same offence twice - to the trial of a police sergeant for rape and various indecent assaults, and the London nail bomb trial.
So, forgive me if at first glance I choose to discuss something that might appear less serious, for this week I want to talk about football.
Now of course with Euro 2000 starting today there are some very obvious reasons for wanting to discuss football - not least of which is the Home Secretary's attempt to 'get tough' with football hooligans. This, at the very least, should allow a columnist who writes about crime and punishment to indulge himself with his favourite sporting passion. Yet if truth be told I have two seemingly different and unrelated reasons for wanting to discuss football, although I will eventually get back to hooliganism.
The first concerns nationalism. As many of you will know I am Scottish, and as most of you will be delighted to remember the Scots did not qualify for Euro 2000 having been beaten by the English 2-1 over two legs at Hampden and Wembley respectively. I have seen much comment in the media that this fact will mean that the Scots will not be rooting for England in the championships. After all the English are the 'auld enemy' (did you realise that the French were the 'auld alliance'?) and so in these years of devolution and separate parliaments the Scots - so the argument goes - would rather be seen supporting anyone other than Kevin Keegan's side.
As far as I am concerned that's rubbish. As someone who has spent his entire adult life in England I will be rooting for the English as much as if I had been born and bred in Selly Oak. I cannot imagine anything worse than England being beaten and going out of the championships. …