The beauty of the World Cup, and especially this game, is that it’s a marvelous opportunity to demonstrate one small piece of lingering English superiority. This “showdown” between England … is in fact a made-for-history moment to score one back for the old country. It’s the one darned thing they know they can beat America at.
Those sentiments from Gerard Baker in the Wall Street Journal today. He continues:
The national superiority complex is actually cruelly misplaced when it comes to soccer. Having lost the colonies, an empire, global leadership and half of the Rolling Stones, the idea that England is a great footballing nation has been a birthright for the Queen’s subjects, a heady concept allowed to enter and suffuse the English consciousness. They do indeed like to consider it their national game. But the fact is that in the last 40 years England has enjoyed as much success in the World Cup as it has in the World Series…. Of the other 14 World Cups, England failed to qualify for three; it reached the semifinal in 1990, and other than that has never advanced beyond the quarter-final….
Also gnawing away at the collective English sporting consciousness this weekend is the terrible memory of that infamous World Cup in 1950, when England actually contrived to lose 1-0 to the U.S. in Brazil. That defeat was itself taken in the popular English consciousness as the surest sign yet of the nation’s inexorable decline. A similar result Saturday … would quite possibly have a similarly devastating effect. But, hey! There’s still cricket.
And, I might add, international arbitration. American lawyers can’t avoid that gnawing feeling that the Brits are still at the top of the heap when it comes to that game.