The European Parliament has ruled that the football teams playing in this summer’s European Championship must display the European flag on their shirts. Once rubber-stamped by the Commission, the bill will become law, even though the federasts are claiming the decision to display the emblem or not will be left to the national federations’ discretion.
I wonder how our own dear FA is going to handle this hot Euro-potato. One suspects in roughly the same way as it did at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, just before Germany’s previous attempt to unify Europe, when England’s footballers saluted the Führer in the style to which he had become accustomed. Indirectly, they were thereby also saluting such Nazi accomplishments as the antisemitic Nuremberg laws, passed the year before. Well, perhaps ‘saluting’ is a bit harsh. Let’s agree on ‘ indirectly condoning’.
In a parallel development, the EU Parliament stated that ‘the European flag should be flown at major international sports events held on the EU territory’. Now, this is getting really interesting.
I freely admit to not following current affairs as diligently as I should, but I was still under the impression that the word ‘territory’ in this context is associated with a nation state, as in France, Italy, whatever. That impression was obviously wrong, and I apologise for having neglected a major geopolitical development.
I thought that the EU was a union of sovereign states, each with its own territory. It turns out that the EU itself is a sovereign state, and can lay a valid claim to what the 27 members erroneously regard as their own territory. This clarifies matters a lot, and I thank the EU for making them transparent, at last.
What follows is that England, her national territory no longer her own, isn’t entitled to her own national team either. The squad should instead be called EU 4, to reflect former England’s ranking in the European pecking order. Former Spain would be EU1, former Holland EU2, former Germany EU3 and so forth.
Since England will no longer have her own national team, there’s no reason not to reinstate John Terry as captain — of EU4. I’m sure he, along with his fellow players Wayne Rooney (Wazza) and Steven Gerrard (Stevie G), are more than ready to assume their new pan-European identities. Why, their habit of drawing exorbitant pay for little (and, at international level, incompetent) work would by itself qualify them for post-football careers as MEPs. The fans, however, will have a problem.
They’ll have to think up new chants, reflecting the major shift in geopolitical realities. At a pinch, ‘ere we go, ere we go, ere we go’ could become ‘ici, nous allons, nous allons, nous allons’, although somehow it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But some of the others will need to be rethought altogether.
For example, ‘If it wasn’t for England, you’d all be krauts’ just wouldn’t work. Perhaps we ought to consider something like, ‘England or no England, you’ll all be krauts.’ No, that’s not quite right either. What about ‘Thanks to the European Union, of which Britain is a proud member, we shall all be Germans’? Much better.
‘Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be’ is already sufficiently multi-culti, no change needed there. But the common chant referring to the referee’s autoerotic tendencies needs to be amended to ‘l’arbitre, c’est un sale con’, even though some mellifluous quality will be lost along the way.
The fans must be instructed not to display emblems and slogans that might be construed as a manifestation of euroscepticism. The Union Jack on their clothing can be easily covered up with EU decals pasted over, no problem there. But ‘two world wars, one world cup, so f… off’ must be replaced altogether. May I suggest, ‘two world wars, one EU, whatever next’ as a suitable alternative?
A word of caution to England’s — pardon me, EU4’s — fans. Switching from lager to pan-European wine or, as a courtesy to the Championship’s co-hosts Poland and Ukraine, vodka will necessitate also switching from pints to glasses or, as the case may be, shots. Otherwise they just might forget what’s what and revert to their English identity. Can’t have that, the EU won’t allow it.