Before you say it, yes I am supporting England and no, I could never forget about 800 years of oppression from English rule and the memory of Ireland’s patriots of 1916.
For an Irishman, to support England in the World Cup would make you a ‘West Brit’ or a traitor to your identity, but that could not be further from the truth.
The most obvious reason for supporting England at the moment would be that their captain and top striker, Harry Kane, has roots in Connemara and is proud of his Irish ancestry. However, history could also explain this phenomenon for many with roots in the north of Ireland, like myself.
What. A. Feeling. 😁🙌#ThreeLions #ENG #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/gWGTJW4YDv— Harry Kane (@HKane) July 3, 2018
As a result of partition in 1921, those of an Irish identity in the occupied six counties felt abandoned by the newly-formed Irish free-state. For my family and many others in the north, we felt alienated from the south of Ireland because they left us to deal with the Brits and lacked the ability to pursue a United Ireland then and there.
While I would absolutely call myself Irish and would support the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup if they qualified, I feel as though supporting Northern Ireland or England is something that should not be considered treason by fellow Irish men and women.
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My grandfather, a proud County Armagh man, never got the chance to support Ireland in the World Cup, but back in 1966, when England won the competition for the first time, he felt unimaginable joy. My mother always tells me that she remembers him dancing around the house and jumping up in the air for the legendary team with greats such as Bobby Charlton and Moore.
England boasts countless Irish immigrants, those with Irish ancestry, as well as Irish footballers who have sought to make it big in the Premier League. Supporting the England team is not as ridiculous as it may seem.
"Ethnically they are a really mixed bag. Harry Kane has Irish roots, Raheem Sterling's are in Jamaica." https://t.co/nCJPf3X3yC— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 6, 2018
Sports, like soccer, should never be a demonstration of political animosity or the embodiment of inherent hatred. It’s just a game, folks. It would be like if only Republicans supported the Mets and Democrats only supported the Yankees in baseball.
At the end of the day, Ireland and England have a shared history and are neighbors, so enjoying one another’s success is something that can only strengthen the bonds between our two islands and help us move on from the past to a brighter future.
I will say one last thing though: It's coming home, it's coming home, football's coming home!