This morning, as per usual my Twitter feed is filled with England fans bemoaning the apparent lack of passion shown by the England players in this year’s World Cup. Examples include:
“If England played with half of Greece’s passion we could be very dangerous”
“With a bit of luck by the next tournament England football team will of learnt to sing our national anthem with some pride and passion!!!!”
“England is probably the only team that have no passion when singing the national anthem”
You have probably noticed that passion in football terms seems to be defined by mainly singing the national anthem. The majority of fans prefer to think of themselves as more passionate about their nation just because they belt out the anthem full pelt, as opposed to a bunch of footballers who are about to represent their country against WORLD CLASS international players such as Andrea Pirlo and Luis Suarez.
Let’s think about this, I was watching the Uruguay game in a pub renowned for the screening of England games. It was packed full of England fans, the crosses of St George spreading every corner of every wall. The anthem came on. Yes, people sang it. But not to the point where they sang it at full volume, mouths wide open, apparently epitomising the idea of passion. England fans have always complained about certain players not singing the anthem, this year, all of them sang it. What else do people want?
Before the 2014 World Cup started, the widely held belief was that England were nowhere near good enough to win the tournament. A squad packed full of talented but inexperienced youngsters were told to “go for it, we have nothing to lose, lets attack”. Mainly because we all knew that the quality and chemistry of the squad did not match those like Brazil, Uruguay, Italy, France, Argentina and Chile.
2 weeks later. Once again, people are disappointed and angered by the fact that we lost to two teams above us in the world rankings, apparently due to a lack of ‘passion’. This is despite, as mentioned before, no one ever seriously believed England could get past the quarter final stage.
So is passion really the be all and end all? Is quality completely irrelevant? Let’s look at Andrea Pirlo. ‘The genius’ he was rightly called from all corners of the English media after the first game, passing the ball, controlling the game at an alarming ease. Watching the Italian’s sing their anthem, Pirlo appears to mumble out the words, similarly to many of the England players, who get vilified and criticised by particular fans and pundits alike for not indicating any passion.
Is this failure in Brazil not due to a lack of quality? Like everyone said before the tournament began?
Passion is not shown by singing an anthem which lasts around 40 seconds. This year, I saw young players giving it their best shot, like we all wanted them to. The joy on the faces of Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney when they scored their goals, Raheem Sterling’s trickiness and pace, Steven Gerrard’s rueful look when Suarez smashed in his 2nd and the disappointment in interviews following the defeats demonstrated the passion that we all look for. Yes, it’s great to see the likes of the Brazilians and Chileans screaming out their anthems, but their teams both have quality, chemistry, tactics and know-how. Unlike us.