In toxic times, England’s exit must not bring an end to this sense of unity | David Conn

by Theguardian

Football
We can all hope for a lasting legacy of unity from England’s heartening journey to the World Cup semi-final, but there is a queue of cautionary notes

When England make it to a World Cup in normal times there is never too much need to agonise over the significance of it all beyond the football itself; the coherence of midfield, confidence on the ball, the astonishingly fine margins between progress and exit. But these are abnormal times – with the UK divided by the toxic, anti‑immigration Brexit campaign – so, understandably, people have agonised.

Looking for optimistic signs, many people have seen a warmer‑hearted version of England being encouraged by the extended exposure to the inclusive values of Gareth Southgate and his diverse, likable group of players. In a tweet just after England’s elimination by Croatia, Kyle Walker channelled the spirit and nearly the exact words of the Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by an English fascist just before the referendum: “We might live in a time where sometimes it’s easier to be negative than positive, or to divide than to unite, but England: let’s keep this unity alive. I love you.”

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