The temptation of the puffed up little-Englander to celebrate Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea’s success in reaching the finals of the Champions (ECL) and Europa Leagues – UEFA’s premier club competitions – even led our Prime Minister into the trap of comparing her failing EU policies to Liverpool’s comeback against Barcelona in their memorable ECL semi-final.
However, to affirm English Premier League’s (EPL) success to any little-Englander values or their cursed Brexit ambitions has levels of humour and irony not normally associated with these hate-filled unsmiling, Faragists. If it tells us anything, this year’s EPL success is a statement for freedom of movement, for being at the heart of a European rules-based system (however imperfect – and UEFA is much worse than the EU), and, frankly, for marginalising English-ness wherever it raises its head.
The four successful EPL clubs are owned by a US sports group, a Bahamian company, a US billionaire and a Russian oligarch – each of whose excesses are moderated by the European rules of UEFA. They are managed by a German, an Argentinian, a Spaniard and an Italian. Those who actually played in the semi-finals hailed from 24 different nations – England, 12 from other EU nations, 2 non-EU Europeans, 4 African, 3 South American, 1 North American, and 1 Asian.
Three English players started for each of Liverpool and Spurs; one for each of Arsenal and Chelsea. Three English subs came on during the four games, and three English starters went off. Of the 12 goals scored by ‘our boys’, Loftus-Cheek’s strike for Chelsea was the sole goal by an Englishman – and ‘cheeky’ could have chosen to play for Guyana had he wished.
Indeed, of the ‘English’ players involved in the semis, besides Cheeky’s Guyanese antecedents, we have a veritable United Nations of Gambian, Jamaican, Nigerian, Spanish, and various African-Caribbean influences. Arguably, only Henderson and Milner might be welcomed into a Brexit Party shindig – although I hope I am doing both a disservice.
It is difficult to build an argument of English greatest on the coat-straps of the four EPL clubs’ success. But no doubt that won’t stop Brexit press, politicians and a vocal minority of supporters.
The world is truly bonkers. If one is to believe the polls for the impending European Parliament elections, a sizeable minority of little-Englanders will vote for a ‘Brexit Party’ with NO constitution, NO manifesto, NO knowledge of who is funding it, led by a life-long card-carrying member of the most well-heeled financial elites who has scrounged off the public purse for decades. For totally unfathomable reasons, this abomination is given unlimited, uncritical BBC coverage to promote his xenophobic bile whilst the state broadcaster suppresses any investigation of his dishonesty.
Back on the soccer field, I shall cheer on the Bahamian club in Madrid, and, although relatively indifferent, just about hope the Russian oligarch’s trumps the US billionaire’s in Baku. And when the House of Commons rises to applaud whosoever’s heroics, I hope one of the MPs will have the confidence to promote the openness and outward-looking narrative.
Brexit has probably irrevocably made England a nasty, intolerant construct – don’t let it steal the ‘glory game’ as well.