Wednesday, May 25

Football is coming home: three words that will irritate millions in the run-up to the 2021 England-Italy Eurocup final

If there are three words in English that can shake world soccer fans more than “goal in review,” it is this seemingly innocuous phrase: Football’s Coming Home.

You will hear all of this from now until Sunday at 3pm ET of the start of the Euro 2020 final, which is a year late due to the pandemic, but five decades late for England fans who have yearned for a great championship since their boys won the World Cup. in 1966.

The websites of The Independent of London and the BBC made headlines related to that phrase after England’s 2-1 win over Denmark in extra time led the Three Lions to the Euro Cup match against Italy.

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And this irritates those who argue that the sport was not really invented in England, and those who are inclined not to like the team nicknamed “The Three Lions” because of the crest on the players’ jerseys, and even those who have some political animosity. . populated portion of the United Kingdom.

“This is an outright lie,” author Ged O’Brien once told BBC Sport Scotland. “The genius of the Scots for the last 500 years, and in particular the idea of ​​the clan system, is what football gave us. It’s a completely Scottish game. “

The origins of the sport are widely debated, with some dating back to China nearly 2,500 years ago. However, it seems difficult to argue that the rules of football as it is played today date back to the formation of the Football Association in 1863. That happened in London, where Wembley Stadium is located, which will serve as the headquarters for England. Italy final on Sunday.

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This is why many English fans consider their country to be the spiritual home of the game, and that led to the composition of a song 25 years ago, before Euro 96 became the most recent major international tournament to be held in its entirety. in England, called “The Three Lions.” The most frequently repeated phrase in that song is “He’s coming home”, followed by “Football is coming home”.

So you know the origin of the controversy, but perhaps not entirely the reason why it is a controversy.

The easiest way for an American fan to understand the impact “Football’s Coming Home” has had on world soccer fans is to consider how a similar phrase from pop culture has impacted the past century of NFL American football.

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No one in the Dallas Cowboys organization came forward and proclaimed their squad, “Team America.” That was the title assigned by NFL Films to the 1978 film Cowboys Highlights. Among the responsibilities of NFL Films was producing a summary of the season for each team in the league. Often times, it was a challenge to put a nice spin on a season that ended unpleasantly. In the 1978 season, the Cowboys narrowly lost the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers after one of their tight ends dropped a certain touchdown pass that could have changed the game.

NFL Films wasn’t going to call that movie, “Well, almost” or “Butterfingers.” So the authors focused on the team’s huge television popularity and the number of Cowboys fans who showed up when the team was away and came up with “America’s Team.” That was immediately resented by fans of other teams, and they (and the journalists and commentators those fans follow) helped make it ubiquitous. Now, “Team America” ​​has been mocked and ridiculed across America every day since then, as the Cowboys haven’t made it to a Super Bowl since 1995.

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Now, take it and multiply it around the world, and you will understand why “Football’s Coming Home” is so irritating to so many. It is presumed to be, in essence, an expression of arrogance: this is our game and you are all lucky that we allow you to play.

When asked before the semi-final against England what he thought about “coming home” football, Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, whose day job is with the Premier League club Leicester City, replied: “Have you ever been at home?”

The song itself, however, is inventive, engaging, and most importantly, self-deprecating. It was not written by David Beckham or Gary Lineker or Paul Gascoigne. The comedians who wrote it, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, and who performed it alongside the band Lightning Seeds, made no apparent effort to declare England the sole worthy winner of all major international soccer championships.

Instead, they made references in the song to “30 Years of Pain” that followed the 1966 World Cup title and included this verse:

So many jokes, so many teases

But all those oh-so-close

Wear you out

Through the years

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In fact, the aspect of “Football’s Coming Home” or the England fandom that is really exhausting is that embrace of perpetual anguish, the fatalism “That England will throw it, blow it up”, as the song goes, reminiscent of the Red Sox. before 2004 or the Cubs before 2016. Like they only lost, and they only lost in the big moments, and they only lost devastatingly.

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Sure, the Sox had Buckner and the Cubs had Bartman and England had Becks shooting a penalty over the bar in the 2004 Euros (above). Hey, the Detroit Lions have been to the NFC Championship game once in 51 years, and Belgium just saw their golden generation fall from another great tournament without reaching the final.

All fans suffer something. It’s part of the deal. There is no home for sports agony. That resides everywhere.

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