Supporting the Men's English National Football team is awkward.
The anthem starts. I hear the words, and I'm flooded with visual images and stories of atrocities committed in the name of Monarchy, the English Empire, and all its associates.
Currently, I can support the current rendition of the national team. But before, when the 'Golden Generation' was on the scene, I supported individual players to succeed.
I the current bunch of England players, i.e. Rashford, Sancho, Saka, Sterling, Rice, Shaw - I like them. They are relatable, authentic, & speak their mind. They are all true to themselves, and that's all you want as a fan. Don't be fake, and just be yourself.
Despite that, I'll never buy an England kit. Why. Because that flag is drenched in the blood of innocent people.
The football grounds of England were the recruiting grounds of the National Front and all the other fascist groups.
Those fans/people will go out P-Bashing and hurling racist abuse at black people. As a person of colour, you know if you see a group of drunk white people after a football game, anything can kick off, meaning you are in imminent danger.
That history doesn't just go away. Whilst white people who perpetuated those crimes can move along swiftly, for those impacted directly/indirectly, it stays within their psyche and negatively reverberates within their family and community.
Such behaviour is barely called in for justice.
Most of us have to wrestle with that generational trauma DAILY!! Whether through micro-aggressions at work or constant reminders of the impact of colonialism/neocolonialism and white supremacy.
The disproportionate impact of climate change is a recent reminder, i.e. Pakistan Floods.
Imperial colonial violence and white supremacy live on.
Those accused and convicted of racism are somehow still adored 👀
All this and more is under the flag of this country. How can an individual who originates from a subjugated land, whose parents escaped persecution by a tyrannical leader [possibly supported by this country 👀🤷🏾♂️]? Reconcile with the fact that they love the current English players and their local community but can never have that same love for the institution, the Men's English National Football team.
Supporting England, for me, will forever be an exhausting, complex issue.
Nonetheless, good luck in Qatar!✌🏾🤗