Obviously England are going to win the World Cup 🙂 , but just imagine, oh horror of horrors, that that doesn’t happen. Imagine that we get knocked out early on. Whom are you going to support then? If anyone’s actually reading this, please feel free to answer that! A country featuring players from your own club? I would think a lot of Liverpool fans will be keeping a close eye on Egypt. Somewhere you’ve got personal connections to? – maybe you had a nice holiday there, or a family member or close friend comes from there? Maybe – it is meant to be about the football, after all! – it’s all about whose style of play you like. Or is it political/historical – I assume not too many of us will be supporting Saudi Arabia or Iran. Or maybe you just want to win the office sweepstake.
OK, I know this has nothing to do with history, but the History Channel said it’d be showing a load of programmes on the history of football during the World Cup, and it hasn’t done! And the BBC somehow managed to get through the whole of Egypt v Uruguay, in Ekaterinburg, without mentioning the assassination of the Romanovs. Seriously. I assume we will get a few references to the Siege of Stalingrad when England take on Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday, but I bet we don’t get the Cossack revolts L . So I haven’t got anything historical to review, as far as the World Cup goes … so, instead, I wrote a rather silly list of notes on whom to support and whom not to support. And then I was just going to delete it because it was a load of waffle, but, having written it, I thought I might as well post it. Waffles are associated with Belgium. I hope that’s not a bad omen for Thursday’s match.
(Marked with a * if I’ve actually been there.)
Countries with a strong connection:
Spain* – after a long and wondrous clay court season, and with Wimbledon up ahead, my brain is practically running in Spanish. And Spain have the biggest United contingent of any team other than England, with David de Gea, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata all involved.
Russia* – spot the Russian history specialist! Been there twice, hope so much to go again.
Portugal* – a country I’m very fond of. Pasteis de nata, pasteis de nata! And he may be an idiot, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sweden* – I have a long-standing soft spot for Sweden, going back nearly 30 years, and they’ve got Victor Lindelof in their squad.
Serbia – I’ve always had an interest in Serbian history. And they’ve got Nemanja Matic.
Countries with some connection:
Brazil* – everyone’s got a soft spot for Brazil, haven’t they? And a nice man lent me a toy World Cup to hold up outside the Maracana.
Belgium* – they’ve got Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini. And they do make very nice chocolate.
France* – it always feels vaguely wrong to cheer for France ;-), but they have got Paul Pogba.
Argentina* – it may be 32 years since the Hand of God incident but I still have issues with Argentina! But Buenos Aires has to be the most football-mad city I’ve ever been to, and that made quite an impression on me. I thought there might still be hostility towards British visitors, even 34 years after the Falklands War, but I was made to feel welcome everywhere, and faces lit up whenever I mentioned the word “Manchester”. And they’ve got Sergio Romero.
Morocco* – well, I had a very nice holiday there. Even if someone did ask me if I was German. I know my French accent isn’t exactly Parisian, but I’ve never been accused of being German anywhere else!! But, hey, at least they understood me!
Egypt* – another place with happy holiday memories. And they make tea properly. Surprisingly few countries do.
Switzerland* – no real football ties, but it has lakes and mountains and chocolate.
Peru* – they’ve got Machu Picchu. And they seemed to understand my Spanish.
Denmark* – well, they did have Peter Schmeichel. And they make nice open top sandwiches.
Australia – come on, all Anglophones and Commonwealth countries together!
Nigeria – ditto!
Countries with no connection but which I hope do well:
Iceland – OK, they made fools of us at Euro 2016, but it was all kind of romantic, and I got really into their chanting.
Senegal – I can’t think of a way to say this that doesn’t sound patronising, but they are the poorest country to qualify, and I watched an interesting programme (presented by Eric Cantona) about how much football means to people there.
No strong feelings:
Germany* – I just don’t particularly cheer for Germany. Don’t mention the war and all that. Old habits die hard!
Mexico* (very briefly).
Croatia* – I have been there, and it was very nice, but it’s not somewhere I’ve ever felt a close affinity for.
Uruguay – it’s usually nice to see South American teams do well, but I cannot bear Luis Suarez!
Countries I won’t be cheering for:
Saudi Arabia. I know the football team isn’t to blame for what’s going on in Yemen, Or the country’s attitude towards women. Or its human rights record in general. But even so.
Iran – even if they are managed by Carlos Queiroz. Again, I know the football team isn’t to blame for political issues. But even so.
Poland* – I have studied a lot of Polish history, and I have been to Poland twice, and any country which produces cherry vodka deserves a certain amount of respect. But this current government – ugh.
I use too many exclamation marks, don’t I? Apparently Prince Philip does, as well.
But obviously England are going to win. So all this is irrelevant. Yes, indeed …