I was waiting originally to write this post on Thursday, when, I stupidly thought that perhaps, just maybe, possibly, by a tiny margin, England could have beaten Italy, shown that pluck and courage that they have, but combined it with an effort to attack effectively, and there’d be an England vs Germany semi final. Which would have been another great showcase for our Double Duvet Debate couple and a big test on the strength of our relationship, with both of us screaming at opposite teams on the screen. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, that was not to be, but football still has the power to both unite and divide. The Euros have been a great showcase for that this month. Bar a few sad exceptions of racism, I’d say most of Europe and some of the rest of the world have been glued to their screens, or meeting in public viewing forums several nights a week watching the creme de la creme of the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, the Premiership and the French top flight (hmmm what are they called La League ? La PremiereLeague? – and why don’t I know that?) do battle. I’m looking forward to Spain vs Portugal tonight and to Germany vs Italy tomorrow. Tonight it’s easy, I’ll be supporting Spain, although I think Portugal might just steal a march on the Spaniards this time. Tomorrow it’s a bit harder. I’ve spent many years reporting on Italian football and was in Rome when they won the final of the World Cup in 2006. Sailing down the Gianicolo hill towards Piazza del Popolo in a convoy of mopeds, trailing an Italian flag behind me and then jumping up and down in the square to the White Stripes and chanting Campione is unforgettable. I was also urging the Italians on in that other famous semi in 2006, against, yes you’ve guessed it, hosts of the tournament, Germany. England and Germany of course have always been rivals, both on the terraces and off, ‘two world wars and one world cup’ is what we in England love to chant, a bit pathetically now given that they were all over half a century ago, and when England lost to Germany in the 2010 world cup, I was screaming for England from the lawns of Villa Borghese whilst being smiled at benignly by a group of Germans. So, I don’t have a history of supporting Germany, and by a strange twist of fate, we’ll be in Italy tomorrow to watch this historic game. But, loyalty to my partner means that I should be supporting his team, and my new found enthusiasm for his country means that I actually want to support them, but I feel guilty at abandoning the Italians too. I didn’t realise quite how much my English roots meant to me though until this competition started. Believing that as usual, England would go precisely nowhere and be a huge disappointment of individually talented players but with no team spirit, I blithely declared I’d be supporting Germany from the start. M smiled and looked pleased, so we were both taken aback when I was screaming at the screen on Sunday night and cursing the Italians for being so good. I still insisted that if England did play Germany then I’d be happier if Germany won, as I thought I was the more flexible and better at taking defeat, after all, I’m used to it, but I think M was visibly relieved when we managed to avoid that little problem. So football has the power to unite, we have united a disparate group of friends to watch various matches, and every fan in every country has something to say to each other when there’s a major tournament on, a transfer season underway or a battle for supremacy or relegation in one of the leagues. But it also divides. Luckily, this time we’ll not get to put our relationship to the test, and can sail happily on in the knowledge that when the 90 minutes (or 120) are over what was on the field, stays on the field, and real life carries on as normal. I would have liked to see us win for once though…..So, back to tomorrow night, I’ll have to just go with my guts or glory about who I decide to support, but since love conquers all, it’ll have to be Go Germany – is that Vorgehen Deutschland ??
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