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Opinion

Starmer’s attempt to hijack England’s sporting bandwagon shows why it’s so hard for Welsh fans to get onboard

28 Jul 2022 4 minute read
Beth Mead picture by Nick Potts / PA Wire. Keir Starmer picture by Danny Lawson / PA Wire.

Ifan Morgan Jones

Let me be clear (a phrase politicians are so fond of) – I have nothing against England’s women’s football team.

I was even, in a quite subdued way, not quite cheering them on but at least wishing them well at Euro 2022.

Anything that boosts participation in women’s football, and helps bring them to equal prominence with men’s football, is a positive thing. Germany has won eight of the last ten tournaments, which is reason enough to back the English underdog.

But good Lord, England’s politicians and their media don’t make these things easy, do they? They just can’t help themselves.

They can’t just let English sporting success stand on its own merits, to be supported or viewed with indifference depending on the audiences’ levels of interest, or lack of.

As soon as England reaches a major tournament – or in the case of women’s football, the latter stages – that success needs to be crowbarred by their own political agenda in the most opportunistic way possible.

Hence Keir Starmer’s demand in the Mirror that “all Brits” be given a bank holiday if the Lionesses beat Germany in the final on Sunday.

“The whole country will be roaring on the Lionesses in the final on Sunday,” he said.

“They have already done us proud, but if they win it will be a truly historic achievement – one that should be marked with a proper day of celebration.”

Here, Keir Starmer isn’t just jumping on a bandwagon but hijacking it – turning what was a positive celebration of women’s sport into something that serves his own political ends.

Badgered

The aim, of course, is to boost a form of British national identity in which Wales and Scotland are expected to support England because it’s their country as well.

This is nonsense because the English football team is the English football team. ‘We’ don’t have to support it, because it isn’t ours.

It’s like demanding that Manchester United and Manchester City fans support each other because they’re both from Manchester.

You could, in fact, be very proud of being British and not be expected to feel forced to feel positively about the sporting success of another part of it.

But the obvious ploy here is to try and hijack England’s success into serving Kair Starmer’s own political interests, which is to boost unionism in Wales and Scotland.

British/English politicians and media just don’t realise how much ill-will this engenders, and that it’s a big reason why the Welsh and Scottish adopt an ‘anyone but England’ approach in the first place.

To be badgered and harried into supporting a team that means nothing to you turns indifference into ill will.

I didn’t really mind who won the Euro 2022 final on Sunday. If England won I would have enjoyed the sporting drama and clapped and wishes them well just like any other team.

If Germany do now win it however at least that will be mixed with relief that we won’t have to suffer any more cack-handed attempts by politicians to milk England’s triumph for their own political ends.

As a Welshman, it’s hard to get on board that English sporting bandwagon knowing it’s going to be hijacked every single time.

In Keir Starmer’s case, all he’s managed to do is once again to drive that bandwagon into a ditch.


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Steve George
Steve George
4 months ago

What he said! 👆

I Humphrys
I Humphrys
4 months ago

For me, it’s simply two foreign teams I hope they all have a good time, though this is very rare these days with grown men crying their eyes out if they come second. Pity.
I prefer Sumo.

Last edited 4 months ago by I Humphrys
CJPh
CJPh
4 months ago
Reply to  I Humphrys

Been a tough time since covid hit Japan, thin crowds – I miss Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kotoshogiku.

Krag
Krag
4 months ago
Reply to  I Humphrys

I love sumo. My kids think I’m mad.

Keith Gogarth
Keith Gogarth
4 months ago

And yet he stands in the way of making St. David’s Day a holiday in Wales!
Come on Germany!!

Jack
Jack
4 months ago
Reply to  Keith Gogarth

Making St Davids Day a bank holiday was in the last labour manifesto

Adrian Meagher
Adrian Meagher
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack

Really? Was that the GB manifesto or the Wales manifesto? The reason I ask is that it makes no sense to offer a St David’s Day bank holiday to Wales in a GB manifesto without offering a St Georges Day bank holiday to England at the same time. I certainly heard no joyous commotion from England as one might have expected.

Jack
Jack
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Meagher

The last UK Labour manifesto committed to making both holidays a Bank Holiday in their respective countries.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jack
One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
4 months ago

Good luck to both foreign sides. I don’t care which wins

Tom Bennett
Tom Bennett
4 months ago

I have no interest. The National Eisteddfod is more important here in Cymru.

George
George
4 months ago

I watched Northern Ireland and a bit of the Dutch but haven’t seen the rest of the tournament largely because Wales aren’t in it. I could see positives from England doing well for what it would mean for women’s sport across the UK but this sort of statement turns me off and makes me want to cheer on Germany. P.S. we can probably learn a lesson in ensuring that Welsh football is a celebration of Welsh football and Welsh culture. Making it overtly or primarily about flags and identity (even if it’s a flag/identity we feel comfortable with) will turn… Read more »

WilliamsG
WilliamsG
4 months ago

Pleased for England to see England’s women doing well but I have no preference as to who wins, they are both teams I have no connection with or reason to support. I really dislike the fact that it is assumed we all support the English teams of whatever sport when in reality most of us don’t care either way

William Glyn THOMAS
William Glyn THOMAS
4 months ago

It is the same with the media. The English get to see their sports people live on TV not the case with Scotland, Wales, and N.Ireland, we have to wait for the highlights or a watch a recorded version.

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
4 months ago

That’s why I’m not paying my TV licence ànd don’t watch EBC oops BBC

Quornby
Quornby
4 months ago

The main problem is having in large measure to share their media. I suspect that most countries go a bit barmy in support of their sports people but in the name of all that is wonderful is any other nation or race as far up their own backside as the English in full media mode? Excuse me I’m missing an interview with a player’s grandmother about what she had for breakfast today and if her choice was influenced by the “lionesses”.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
4 months ago

The British/English politicians just don’t realise what they are doing as it is so inbred into the culture of Westminster. They just don’t think or fully understand their actions. Unless they start treating the Union as a partnership of equals the Union is dead. In saying that, they’ve had their chance, they can’t do it, it is not in their DNA – so it is goodbye to the Union.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

More sycophantic Anglocentric England claptrap by Union hating red Tory Keir Starmer. Would he make similar calls if Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland women were in the same position? No. I never heard similar calls when Wales men got to the final of the 2009 Rugby 7s World Cup held in Dubai after knocking out New Zealand in the process on their way to lifting the trophy. Yes we were the 2009 rugby 7s World Champions. No raising of our flag over Whitehall. No knighthoods for our coach or Bank Holiday mentioned. It only happens whenever glorious England’s in contention.… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Y Cymro
Yr amddifynwr
Yr amddifynwr
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I wouldn’t take any notice of Starmer. And I don’t agree that the media is jumping on the bandwagon.

Don’t forget that only last week the England women’s team was denounced by the BBC for having too many white English women in it.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

This could be a win/win for England, if England win , they have a holiday and celebrate victory, if Germany win they have a holiday and celebrate their German heritage and ancestry, either way, they have a holiday.

Marc
Marc
4 months ago

This nonsense is the reason I want Germany to win,

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Lionesses, more like Ponies with their tails surgically reattached to the backs of their heads…however a bit more time in finishing school and some more fancy ballet footwork, coupled with better passing and crossing while improving their spacial and positional awareness then I think the ladies have every chance of becoming very good at the game…lose the ponytails and get some tattoos and learn to expectorate more forcibly, a bit more work on the knee slides and bee dancing, less tangles and more fouls and we’re good to go…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Girls, if you can’t take a joke, you should not have joined… And for all you city fans out there, one word…Liverpool

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Nil Nil half time I repeat a bit more time in finishing school…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Well done my little ponies…

Aravind
Aravind
4 months ago

You sunk your own argument when you mentioned Man Utd and City! If either team wins, all of Manchester gets a party, not just one half. You can choose not to participate, that’s up to you.

Crwtyddol
Crwtyddol
4 months ago

Adopting a team simply because they’re suddenly successful is pointless, meaningless and joyless

Guy Woodcock
Guy Woodcock
4 months ago

No cynics please

Last edited 4 months ago by Guy Woodcock
stuart stanton
stuart stanton
4 months ago

Imagine having to put up with the incessant racket of lionessses this and lionesses that here in England. For me, the real triumph for female sport over this last week was the Tour de France Femmes, won by a Dutch superstar – Annemiek van Vleuten – with a host of nationalities in her wake.That what is so great about cycling, personalities are bigger than nations. Allez Geraint dydd Sul?

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