Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Two World Wars And One World Cup

We sing because of passion like this

At the risk of alienating the forty (forty? Gott in himmel!) Germans who Neocounter shows have found this site in recent weeks, I have to say that it is with a feeling of disbelief I read the following about the impending football World Cup on the BBC recently:

England fans are being urged not to sing offensive songs at the World Cup, but instead to consider jovial chants in German and display a more peaceful demeanour. (The full story can be found at the Daily Telegraph's site here).

99% of the time I am a rational internationalist fully cognizant of the emptiness of sterotypes. The rest of the time I am watching England play football.

Two of the German stars of Italy 1990 in characteristic action. Jurgen Klinsmann (top) and Rudi Voller (bottom)

I fully agree that there should be no mocking Nazi salutes, goose-stepping, or fingers under noses in mock-moustachery. But making the finger goggles while singing war film themes? Come on!

I think all but the dimmest England supporters are fully aware that the Second World War ended 61 years ago. It would be a different matter if British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw suddenly donned the finger goggles and burst out with the Dambusters themed in a Council of Europe meeting, but please; attempts to take the (often off-colour) needle out of matches with deep sporting historical connotations (quite apart from any national historical links) like England v. Germany or England v. Argentina are almost as offensive as the songs. Its just another symptom of the global disease of neutering sporting clashes in order to make them into colourful "festivals" of athletics rather than a chance to dust off all the old canards and indulge in a little letting off of steam.

I'm less concerned with re-fighting the battles of El-Alamein or Goose Green for example than with vicariously seeing my team of compatriots avenge the travesty that was the 1990 World Cup semi against Germany or the 1986 "Hand of God" by Maradonna. And for those who like to point to more recent victories by England over Germany and Argentina, I'd like to say that I'd love to see vegance again.

But if opposing team can't come up with something horrible to say about England, or even something along the lines of the famous "Your boys took one hell of a beating" rant by Norwegian commentator Bjorn Minge, perhaps England fans can adopt a new anthem for the World Cup. It's an old song, by Noel Coward of all people, and it goes like this:

Don't let's be beastly to the Germans
When we've definitely got them on the run-
Let us treat them very kindly as we would a valued friend
We might send them out some Bishops as a form of lease and lend,
Let's be sweet to them-
And day by day repeat to them
That 'sterilization' simply isn't done.
Let's help the dirty swine again-
To occupy the Rhine again,
But don't let's be beastly to the Hun.

Whatever will be will be; we're going to Germany...

Of course, we might not get to play Germany or Argentina. We have to get through the early rounds first, and I've probably just cursed us.


Mondale said...

I agree with absolutely everything you just said. I know a German and the last time we spoke we spent approximately half the conversation mocking each other's sporting failings of the last 40 years. No mention of either wars but plenty of cruel banter. And besides, singing the 'Dambusters' or 'The Great Escape' theme (both without lyrics i might add) is exactly the type of bizarre injoke that makes sports more fun.

weasel said...

Exactly. If you can't take the heat, don't invade Poland.

mockney said...

its all in bad taste if you ask me.

weasel said...

You just get back to celebrating your premiership title and the Indian drubbing of England at cricket, you.