Opinion – Marina Izidro: The English are rescuing their appreciation for their team’s uniform

Opinion – Marina Izidro: The English are rescuing their appreciation for their team’s uniform

Anyone in the UK these days will come across many national flags and decorated streets. It’s Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee week. They are 96 years old and 70 years old. The longest-lived monarch in British history is loved and respected even by those who call themselves republicans.

There are four days of national holidays, pubs open late, parades and parties. Royal Family events such as jubilees and weddings are for many a way to bring lightness in difficult times. So many British flags spread across the country convey the image of unwavering pride in one’s national identity. It’s not always like that.

If in Brazil there are people who are uncomfortable with their relationship with our flag and who do not wear the shirt of the Brazilian team for fear of being associated with a political position with which they do not agree, know that this happened here in England as well.

In the 1980s, hooliganism drove fans away from stadiums, dampened enthusiasm for football and made many ashamed to wear the national team’s colors. In the following decades, far-right groups like the English Defense League tried to appropriate St George’s Cross – from the flag of England – using it as a political symbol. Movements like this adopted a strategy already seen in other countries: those who supported them were called patriots; whoever did not agree was the enemy of the nation.

As sport and politics intertwine, more recently Brexit advocates have tried to link England’s good performance at Euros to the UK’s separation from the European Union (and seeming to ignore that one of the reasons the Premier League is the strongest in the world is diversity. of foreign talent). Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of wanting to ride the wave of football’s success by going to the final between England and Italy at Wembley wearing the national team’s shirt.

But, little by little, part of the English are managing to rescue their symbols and change the scenario. The generation of players in the team coached by Gareth Southgate has been instrumental in returning that pride. As Andrew Rawnsley wrote in The Observer, Southgate believes in an England united “not by angry and ugly nativism, but by positive patriotism.” He defends diversity in the team, athletes kneeling on the field, stands for causes such as gender equality and combating racism.

He is the commander of a modern and progressive England, a style of leadership with which many identify. Before the European Championship, he wrote an editorial entitled “Dear England”, an attempt to unite the nation around football, associating it with the notion of national identity. He said he believes we are moving towards a more tolerant society and his players are a part of that. Everyone knows that the road is long because cases of racism against athletes are frequent.

What happens in England can serve as an example that our national symbols need not be linked to intolerance and belong to everyone. With the World Cup this year, supporting a team or being proud of the country doesn’t mean political choice for either side.

The English sometimes ask me about politics and football. In their eyes, from those who see it from the outside only with pure admiration, there is a common opinion: our canary uniform is beautiful.

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