03
Jul
06

Reflections on Soccer and Nations.

A lot has been written about the national loyalties of Australian soccer supporters. It seems to have stirred the likes of Andrew Bolt who just doesn’t “get it” apparently.

I often stop for coffee at a particular cafe and the store owner and I talk about travel. She is born in Australia to Greek parents. She thinks of herself as Greek. That’s the way she feels. I can’t really argue with that. I can’t tell her how to feel.

I know of people who have supported their “ancestral” nation for the last 30-40 years and so continue to support them before Australia now.

Then I see supporters who have adorned themselves in the colours of both countries when the loyalties have been divided.

Then I see clusters of young men, full of piss, smashing windows and generally running amok.

It’s just a game, right!?

And then I read articles like Bolt’s that draw parallels with French riots, Sydney riots and branch stacking. This is maybe taking things a little too far.

A colleague went to Germany as an Australian supporter. He is Greek-Australian. Whenever he tried to drape the Australian flag over his brother he would be rebuked: “Get that Union Jack off me!!” What would a Greek-Australian see in the Union Jack? Even England doesn’t play under this flag. No-one at the World Cup does.

Another new phenomenon is to see supporters’ cars with flags. But yet again you rarely see the Australian flag, but rather the green and gold adopted flag.

So what does it mean to be Australian? Or specifically what does it mean to be Australian to a non-Anglo Australian soccer fan? And what is it with the Union Jack?

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