There is not a typical football atmosphere in England.
The euphoria and the headache of the Italy vs. England match is gone and now it is time to think about the strong and feared German team, the favourite of the tournament. The English are out but because of their passion for football, they will watch the rest of the tournament and they will bet on their favourite. This is a classic finale for an Englishman. The Three Lions are coming back home among the general distress, the rest of the nation watch the last games of the tournament on TV and one of the immigrant communities will celebrate the victory of their team on the streets of the major cities in Britain. In short, this is the classic English script for every international football competition.
Every foreigner who has lived for many years in this country will admit that this summer there was something different. Walking around the streets of the capital, from the city centre to suburbs, I noticed something different. Few flags at the windows and pubs not filled up with English supporter during the matches of the Three Lions. Even in the television was possible to notice that there was not the usual invasion of England fans in the stadiums. Clearly, there was not that familiar football tournament atmosphere, that happy and warm celebration of one of the most popular sports (perhaps the most popular) in this country.
Only foreign that are living here for a long time can understand what I am trying to explain. During the past international football tournament I have seen the typical British’s “football fever”.
The whole nation is overwhelmed by this love for football and the Three Lions during the competitions that really count. Never mind that the national team is not the favourite, or of the fact that each time ended badly in the quarter finals, or even that fact that England does not play like Brazil, Spain or Germany, the English go crazy and they cheers for the team with passion. England is painted in white and red and troops of supporters invade the state that hosts the tournament. The whole nation is “decorated” with pride, thousands of St. George flags at the windows, on motorbikes, cars, shops, pubs, supermarkets and adults and children who constantly wear the shirt of the Three Lions.
However, this year there was not that typical joyful atmosphere of celebration. There were so few flags you could count them on the fingers of one hand, some at the windows and other on cars, few Three Lions shirts and pubs half empty. The EURO 2012 atmosphere was a bit “depressing”.
The causes? It is hard to say. The fact that this tournament was not well seen by the British media, due to organizational problems, security and racism (documented on the BBC program “Panorama”), the fact of having one of the worst English selection of the last decade and without a manager until a month before the start of the tournament and the classical expectation of going out in the quarter-final on penalties might have put the English football spirit at the lowest level ever.
Last Sunday, the English nightmare has materialized with the quarter-final knocked out, the usual regrets and the day after controversy.
Those few flags were slowly lowered, folded and put in drawers, ready for Brazil 2014, with the hope that the tournament in the Latin America country will bring back in England that beautiful and festive atmosphere that make this island one of the nations with the most loud and proud supporter of the continent
Published on the website of the Italian newspaper “Il Fatto Quotidiano” on Wednesday the 27th of June 2012 under the title “Europei 2012, eliminata l’Inghilterra senza passione”