Euros 2020, an England perspective, and racism

Euro 2020, an England perspective and racism

I know I said I would not be watching my team England play in the Euro 2020 (just ended, in 2021 because of Covid) finals, with players taking the knee for Black Lives Matter being the final nail in my spiral down from very interested to not interested, but I could not resist, especially as my team got to the final and the tremendous interest shown in their achievements and applauding their exploits.

I am, as I have said more than once, a lifelong supporter of the beautiful game. From a very young age until playing was beyond me, I have played a countless number of “friendlies” with assorted groups of lads, where my contribution can be summed up as generally average (if that) – but I was keen and enjoyed playing and the camaraderie, and later in life was able to contribute as a referee.

While not being over keen on top flight professional football, as much because of the commercialism and lack of the Corinthian spirit, I love to see the best play the best at their best. Imho, this happens every other year (from a home perspective, assuming they qualify) – in the World Cup finals and the Euro finals. It begins with the group stages, which may not always be pretty but the main objective is to qualify for the knock out stages, steadily improve as a team and peak when it matters, i.e. at the final.

I took a passing interest in the group stages, where England qualified comfortably, knowing there will harder tests to come. Then things began to heat up as England progressed to the final, beating Germany, Ukraine, and Denmark on their way to their final showdown with Italy. As tempting as it is to analyse each game, suffice to say I was impressed with the way England played. In each of the quite different games they were worthy winners. I loved their composure and saw a quality that I felt had long been missing.    

  

Regarding the final, I felt after extra time a draw was about the right outcome and sadly the result had to be decided on a lottery aka penalties, with Italy ending up worthy winners. For thirty minutes, England played like champions helped by an early goal that took traditionally defence minded Italy out of their comfort zone. Unlike with the England team, the more experienced Italians adapted well and were tactically superior. They steadily improved and began to dominate, especially in the second half. I think it was one game too many for England, who might have peaked one game too early. They couldn’t rise to the heights that was needed for a final. Overall, I commend and was impressed by England.  I look forward to seeing them in the World Cup, where I genuinely rate their chances.

As for the racist remarks against the three black guys that missed penalties – this was unacceptable. They deserve instead praise given the way they conducted themselves and played throughout the tournament. Even so, I remain disappointed at bringing politics into football and oppose bowing the knee, and this untypical happening dominating the after match talking points, when it should be the football, how well England played, where they go next and what a good tournament it has been, giving pleasure and hope to many.

Ironically, after checking out two Facebook postings seeking to justify the knee bowing in the light of these incidents, I received a surprising amount of flak in response to my posting: “I agree the racist taunts against those exemplary three black players was vile and would be vile even if they were not exemplary. But I say no to knee bowing – the fact that the team are a close knit majority BME unit that transcends race is enough to make the point. And what is the point? BLM is an appalling, politically motivated organisation that burns cities, divides society, supports Marxism, opposes the family, donates to left wing causes like the US Democrat Party, profits their mostly white leaders, who do little for black people, are pawns to the nefarious NWO and endorsed by the gullible”.

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