Sunderland said his reasons were “personal”, but McClean would later claim that he had been “hung out to dry” and told not to explain his reasons. It was only after he had left Sunderland ... that McClean clarified his rationale for not wearing the poppy.
of the 351 foreign players in the Premier League, only 10 come from countries never invaded by Britain.
Just as shaming in Seville on Monday afternoon was the number of England fans who decided that they wanted to define themselves as being against the Irish, and against Roman Catholics. Shouts of “No surrender” between the third and fourth lines of the national anthem have become depressingly frequent at England games. They are just as loud as the rest of the anthem, undermining the claim that sectarianism is only the preserve of a “tiny minority” of the England travelling support.
There is an obsession with Northern Ireland and The Troubles, as shown by the widespread chanting of “F*** the IRA”. What stands out is that those singing are not veterans of the 1980s and 1990s, whose formative years were when this was the dominant issue in British national life. These are English youngsters, born around the time of the Good Friday Agreement, growing up in a time when Northern Ireland was fading away as an issue. And at the time of their lives when they choose who they identify with, and who they identify against, this is what they have chosen.
That explains the worst of all England songs heard in Seville this week, in the bars on Sunday night, and on the walk to the ground on Monday evening. It is made up of three words: “F*** the Pope”. As if we have dredged up the logic of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and decided that this is how we must organise ourselves now. Draw a line in the sand: English on this side, Catholics on the other.
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