Love through football


It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that there’s a World Cup going on in Qatar right now.
The first World Cup I remember was Mexico ‘86 when Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ was etched into my memory forever. But, as a trade unionist and LGBTQ+ and feminist ally, this is the first World Cup since then that I actually considered not watching.

Ever since I was a kid, football has formed an important part of my weekly ritual.
When the old man was still alive, he would call every Sunday evening to talk about the football results. It’s often said that men – particularly those over a certain age – aren’t good at expressing their feelings. But through those exchanges, Dad and I would get a pretty good understanding if there was something bothering one of us, and I like to think that we always found a way to give one another the support we needed. Sometimes we find a different way to communicate:
ours was football.
For me and many other football fans, the beautiful game creates a prism through which we can project our own beliefs and values and put them to the test in a uniquely safe and public space. Perhaps that’s why some have condemned the actions of sportsmen wishing to express their own beliefs and values by shining a light on injustice. Perhaps they realise their own values are destined to fail the test when the lads on the pitch that carry the weight of their hopes on their shoulders make it abundantly clear that they stand against their bigotry and hatred and division.
In the end, I decided to watch.
I decided to support my country and the English values of solidarity and inclusion that our national team represents.
I am proud that they continue to take the knee.
I am proud of them for using their platform to shine a light on racism, sexism and homophobia and the rights of workers building stadiums.
I am proud to be English.
Pat Osborne,
for North Dorset Labour


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