Another international tournament, another penalty shoot-out heartbreak. I use the term heartbreak loosely of course considering that to describe anything as such suggests that it was as devastating as it was unexpected, in reality it was neither.
Maybe age breeds cynicism, and with that comes a permanent sense of pessimism but, whatever the reason, when Allesandro Diamanti’s penalty sent England home in a frustratingly familiar fashion instead of feeling a keen sense of anguish I, as well as many of the people around me, simply returned to my drink with more of irritated but accepting shrug of the shoulders.
What are we to make of this indifference towards our national squad? It could be put down to a lack of expectation in terms of trophies but my club teams hasn’t won a trophy in years and I still find myself wallowing in self-pity every time we lose a league game. So, how is it then that so many English fans have developed this apathy towards their supposed national heroes, and how is it that, no matter how poor our club’s form may be we never lose interest there?
Yes, we invest far more time, money and emotion in supporting our local clubs and therefore the disappointment is bound to be felt in a stronger form but the counter argument to that is that these international tournaments come so seldom that we should be chomping at the bit for international success.
I’m not saying that the passion and support is not there for the England team, I, like others, bought myself the new England shirt and would never consider missing a game, yet the national team is just far less effective when it comes to inflicting the same level of pain as our local teams.
Debatably, people feel a fonder association with their local area than with their country as a whole. This kind of provincial sentiment is perfectly understandable yet to cite it as the reason for the dwindling emotional ties with national football is to ignore the globalisation of football.
There are undoubtedly millions of fans outside of England who care far more about the success of Manchester United or Liverpool or Arsenal than they do about that of their own country. Is it that the incessant bombardment of Sky Sports style montages set to classical music have convinced us that football, and, in particular, our own club really is the most important thing in the world?
If you take away the unsavoury fascist and racist elements of eastern European football, the nationalistic pride expressed by many of their fans is demonstrative of everything that is dwindling in England’s support.
I know this is not the case nationwide and that there are many supporters around the country for whom international football still is the most important aspect of the game. Yet, when posed with the question: what would you rather see happen – England win the World Cup or your team win the Champions League, an increasing number of people would choose the Champions League.
Personally I tend to dither between the two answers. The World Cup seems more unattainable and there are fewer chances throughout your lifetime to win it but personally I’m of the opinion that the more times you experience failure and defeat the sweeter that victory tastes.
Subsequently, even though England’s opportunities to win an international tournament might be far fewer and therefore, in theory, more likely to perpetuate delirium the fact that my club team has caused me so much consistent pain over the course of my life means that were they to achieve the ultimate goal in club football I would inevitably enjoy it more.
We’ve already begun to accept that the highest quality of football is played by those at club level, are we now starting to accept that this has caused us to care less about national side?
So what matters most in football – club or country? It’s a simple question isn’t it, but there are so many ways of interpreting it, and any number of ways of answering it. Samsung have asked football fans ‘what matters most’ to them. I have added my thoughts to the process and I suggest you do the same by clicking here to be in with a chance to win a whole host of goodies, including a Samsung Smart ES8000 55” TV. Why not join the debate…