Monday, June 19, 2006

Question for Trinidad and Tobago supporters

Okay, you decided to support T&T, good on you - but who will you be supporting on Tuesday? The reason I ask is simple, if we take a look at the table supplied here at the SU World Cup Aggregator with one game to go there is only one scenario where T&T can get through to the next round.

With T&T on one point and Sweden on four T&T must win their match and rely on England beating Sweden with a healthy goal difference. Now are you supporting T&T and therefore willing England on to a hefty victory against Sweden or was it a stance to irritate England supporters, in which case a defeat by Sweden could force England into second place and the more difficult second round match?

Do you feel torn?


D.B. said...

Good point!

Another thing that bugs me is the amount of romanticising over Trinidad and Tobago by some on the left. This point has probably already been made...

In football terms, they're underdogs from a relatively poor part of the world and I want them to do well too, but let's not get carried away. Most of the players are journeymen from the British leagues who probably live very affluent middle class lives in this country, as well as a few millionaires. I might be wrong, but it's hard to see what they have in common with the T&T fans back home, other than nationality.

But that doesn't matter, because the T&T fans back home feel represented by the team and have appropriated football for themselves. The same can apply to England and England fans, I think, which is why I don't go along with the line that socialists should support "anyone but England." The meaning of what it means to be fan, like everything, is contradictory and open to contest. I hate patriotism personally, but I'll be supporting England ... just because I like to see those familiar players perform well at a festival of football.

Keep up the good work.

AN said...

And what does it mean supporting T&T? They play the same ugly, lower division English football that I watch every other week. They could only progress through the tournament by defeating teams who are better than them, and lowering the overall level of skill and entertainment to the detriment of the fun and enjoyment of the competition. It is equivalent to saying the woefully bad “Redskins” are better musically than Richard Wagner.

At the Stop the war conference, one delegate from Portsmouth spoke in the debate on Iran, and mentioned that he had an Iranian wife, and his children were half English half Iranian, and that he would be supporting England and Iran. When he said he would be supporting England about a third of the conference booed or hissed. A long term SWP member I was sitting with said he was ashamed of the sectarianism and stupidity of his comrades.

Laurie Sanchez was interviewed on the box last night, and asked who he was supporting as the half Equadorian, manager of Northern Ireland. He said he would be supporting England as he follows the players, and said he wanted the English Premiership, the tournament he has been involved with, to be the best in the world. Exactly.

(P.S. I Noted that for the 80th birthday celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II this weekend there were loads of union flags being waved, and not a St George’s cross in sight – so how exactly is the football boosting the British state?)

Jim Jay said...

When he said he would be supporting England about a third of the conference booed or hissed

That is really, really bad. How ridiculous.

Personally I will feel much happier once England are knocked out because people can then enjoy the games without all the attendant shit, but the StWC is meant to be politically broad so to boo someone for holding a position probably at least 80% of the country hold is just counter productive and self indulgent.

These people forget they don't own the movement.

ps I'd rather listen to the Redskins than Wagner any day of the week.

D.B. said...

Exactly AN.

The only point on which I disagree is when you say that T&T's ugly football is to the detriment of the fun and enjoyment of the competition. Not for me. More often than not, I love it when the classy big boys get beaten by lesser teams. That applies in both domestic and international football. Shock upsets are a joy to behold (apart from when you're at the losing end!) and that's what I love about football.

Ed said...

There's something contrarian about the whole thing isn't there. Put me in a situation where I'm surrounded by England supporters and I'll support the other team. Surround me with anyone but England sectarian dogmatists and I'll support England.

Such is the cynical behaviour of a left reformist petty bourgeois opportunist and etc etc.

AN said...

yes DB normally i would agree about the joyfull prospect of an upset by the lesser teams, but as i support Bristol City, and take my son to watch swindon Town, who have just been relegated to what i still think of as the fourth division, just once it is nice to support a team who have some individual skill and flair.

Incidently, it was intesting to read that the Togo players were threatening a strike for appearance fees of around £30000 per match, while the average annual income of their country is less than 1000 US dollars.

Also the dutch fans who were forced to take off their trousers becasue they had the "wrong" corporate logo on them, so they were only allowed into the stadium semi naked. (as it happened there was no trouble, but if you treat fans like shit, the chances are it will lead to trouble)

Snowball said...

While I have been upholding the line of Anyone But England on my blog - the fact remains this has to be done sensitively and creatively and not dogmatically - so I too would not have joined in with those who booed and hissed at the StWC conference.

However I am even more disgusted by AWL 'socialists' supporting England. Then again nations like England are imperialist countries so it is not surprising.

Jim Jay said...

Are you sure the AWL line is to support England?

I just went to their site (link to their sport articles) and I don't see that from the publications.

They oppose the "Anyone but England" position but don't voice an opinion on who we should support, which seems a fairly reasonable approach, despite the fact I'm in favour of English defeat asap.

But I've not spoken to any AWL members during the world cup so perhaps they are flag wavers in person.

AN said...

Snowball, I cannot help noticing that although you say you wouldn't have booed, you then do almost exactly the same thing by saying you are "disgusted" with the AWL (and by implication people like me as well)

I am also a bit bemused by the suggestion that the England football team are imperialist.

Do you believe that there is a class line in culture?

morbo said...

Please don't muddy the issue by introducing this culture class line thing, nationalism is used by the ruling class, when they say 'get behind england' you should realise what england and why.

Roobin did a good post on scarydoor on it not long ago.

AN said...

Hi Morbo.

i read Roobin's post, which i thought a bit brittle.

The question here is whether there is a distinction between political nationalism, and cultural national identity. this is why i raise the issue of a class line in culture, as it seems that English football is no more or less celebrated as a defining part of natinal identity than the music of Elgar, or plays of Shakespeare (particularly the history plays)

In Murray Smith's excellent article on the national question he quotes the Czech historian Miroslav Hroch, who defines a nation as being "a large social group integrated not by one but by a combination of several kinds of objective relationships (economic, political, linguistic, cultural, religious, geographical, historical) and their subjective reflection in collective consciousness". Hroch adds three elements that seem to him "irreplaceable": i) a 'memory' of some common past, treated as a 'destiny' of the group – or at least of its core components; ii) a density of linguistic or cultural ties enabling a higher degree of social communication within the group than beyond it; iii) a conception of the equality of all members of the group organised as a civil society"

Now of course ruling classes seek to employ national identity for their own ends, but it is a cultural construct that can be contested, and has an ideological and practical relevency. Nor is there only one national identity, and John major's England of elderly ladies cycling to evensong, is not that one being celebrated by supporters of the three lions.

In particular, the eclipsing of British nationalism by English nationalism allows a debate about what sort of england we want, and an opportunity to dump the old imperial crap. If you simply opt out of that debate with a "plague on all your houses" attitude you are not constructivelly engaging with a core ideological element of our society.

It seems to me far better to accept that there is a shared English cultural expereince (or rather several competing expereinces), and promote the values of the workers movement, within the debate about national culture.