David Conn is right in highlighting how the strong leadership of Gareth Southgate in opposing racism and wider injustices has nutmegged Boris Johnson and the Conservative’s blatant opportunism (England and Southgate stop divisive politicians hijacking Euro 2020 success, 8 July). But it is also important to recognise the crescendo of jingoism being engendered by so much of the written and broadcast media, aimed at both the general and sporting public, which is not only feeding post-Brexit nationalism but also reducing objective commentary and analysis.
In this context, Southgate’s support for his players in continuing to “take the knee”, demonstrating internationalism and global solidarity, is highly significant.
Pudsey, West Yorkshire
Win or lose on Sunday, the way the England football team has conducted itself generally, on and off the pitch of late, merits a ceremony in their honour. Rather than anyone seeking to make political capital out of association with them, I am sure I am not alone in hoping that the squad might express a preference for avoiding a Downing Street reception and instead request an event with the truly great and good – the workers and volunteers in food banks, care homes, NHS wards and campaign groups.
All would feel a little better from such an event, including those of us not attending but simply pleased it is taking place, rather than slightly disappointed by what might more usually be expected to follow.
When it comes to football I support Scotland, and I would normally wish England well but probably not watch the game. This time round, Gareth Southgate’s group will get my full support, and above all I feel I know more about these lads than I have any other football team. Instead of reading about mansions or players behaving badly, this group reminds me how we should rally behind a set of progressive values and not a flag. They’ve made news by campaigning for children, taking the knee despite boos and hisses, and by publishing letters about the England they want to live in.
It’s woke, really. And it’s great. Normally England winning the Euros wouldn’t change how I think about independence, but if they win their other battles, who knows? I would still want Scotland to win at football…
A welcome consequence of an England win on Sunday night would be the demise of the chant “Two world wars and one World Cup”. I can’t see “Two world wars and one World Cup and one European Championship” catching on. Come on England.
Being old enough to remember England in the World Cup final, I note that all the current England players have lovely teeth. A clear memory of 1966 was of Nobby Stiles smiling and hopping around with his false teeth in his hand. Autres temps, autres mœurs.
Shipley, West Yorkshire
The adoption of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline by English football fans is a joyous thing, but his equally great I’m A Believer makes more sense.