I really want to believe the football fans when they say that the English flags which have covered the country over the last couple of weeks have nothing to do with far right and racist political groups. But sometimes it can be hard.
The BBC news this morning carried a story about police in both Jersey and Norfolk having to deal with situations where a large group of fans attacked bars that was owned by a Portuguese family (the English team having been knocked out of the European Championship by Portugual last night). It’s like they see it as a war and that anyone with a connection to the opposing side is fair game to be abused.
I’m sure that it wasn’t always like this. I definitely remember the Football World Cup in 1990 being a much lower key affair. The games were still all shown on TV, but there much less of this rabid jingoism. The first time I remember noticing the jingoism was during the European Championships in 1996. And it’s got worse with every major international tournament since.
I, of course, blame the redtop tabloids. They are the cheerleaders for this fanaticism. Every day their front pages talk up our brave English lads whilst making offensive jibes at Johnny Foreigner. They don’t seem to be at all worried about the effects that these headlines are having. If questioned on it, they’d probably say that they are simply reflecting a mood rather than influencing it.
I love living in the UK. I just wish I didn’t have to share it with so many dickheads.