Is there any social activity that brings different parts of society together – in such great numbers and with so much dedication and devotion and giddy bliss – than sport? If there are others (perhaps music comes the closest), we certainly can’t think of any.
There’s no question that this year’s FIFA World Cup, and England’s unexpected performance, brought different parts of British society together. Social characteristics that can sometimes be seen to divide society – such as gender, religious affiliation, socio-economic status, sexuality, etc. – were cast aside in favour of loudly declaring that it is, by all accounts, “coming home”.
That’s right, everyone banded together under a common cause: usher England through the final stages and watch them lift that trophy for the first time in 52 painful years. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite pull it off. But if we had, it wouldn’t have been just a victory for the England football team, it would have been a victory for British society. And following years upon years of international footballing disappointment, it would have been one of significant magnitude and value.
Let’s face it, our society does need to be brought together right now. It is, after all, yearning to be united. When you think of the litany of painful events that we have impacted in recent years – it’s easy to think that we needed this. We needed to remember that we can, and should, all be patriotic in a positive way.
All of a sudden, a young, fresh, energetic team (and their manager who has become an unexpected hero overnight) gave us the opportunity to do this. We were so close to winning the World Cup! We grabbed the opportunity with both hands and we didn’t look back. The team who showed us that football is actually bigger than a bunch of men kicking an inflated ball around a pitch for 90 minutes, was a good metaphor for British society as a whole: The players came from all sorts of backgrounds and faiths and have encountered a range of life experiences, but that didn’t mean they didn’t get along. That didn’t mean that they couldn’t work together very effectively. They clearly did, hence getting to the semi-final.
The World Cup transcends football. The England team united the country; they provided a reflection of our rich cultural, religious, and social diversity. They had both a very real impact when it comes to shaping the country’s identity and providing positive examples of national pride across various communities. Lads, for that, we thank and salute you.
We guess there’s only one thing left to say… *next time*… #It’sComingHome