Tribalism is a funny thing, and will no doubt crop up again in various posts, and while its links to football are as obvious as the nose on your face – no offence intended if your hooter is, shall we say, not to be sneezed at – I hadn’t considered how I might use it to my personal advantage.
Now I don’t like tribalism. At all. I seriously consider it to be the major source of trouble in the world. But when it comes to football, it is more or less essential to enjoyment of the game. I mean, watching 22 men or women kicking a ball about can be fun, but to make it so, for me, the level of skill must be considerable. There are few players, and even fewer teams that I actually want to watch for the sake of the performance. In order to lend the ‘beautiful game’ a frisson of excitement you have to have a vested interest in the outcome, either through gambling on it, or through having a tribal link to one of the teams.
In the World Cup, that’s quite easy, of course, even for someone like me, who sufficiently dislikes tribalism as to think that the idea of countries is something we really need to reconsider. Because, although the brain might be dismissive of the whole notion, the heart hasn’t quite got the email. I do feel intellectually guilty about feeling personally involved when England take to the pitch, but I can’t actually stop myself from doing so.
Now, though, I’ve found a way to dilute my self-disappointment. I’ve had my ancestral DNA analysed and, leaving aside the distinct possibility that the results are sufficiently uncertain as to be close to complete bollocks, I now have several teams for which I can shout like a proper little tribesman.
I was a bit miffed, for example, when my fellow Nigerians bowed out. Quite a small bit, to be honest, since my DNA results suggest that only 0.8% of me should give a damn, and to be fair I got over it quite quickly.
England are still in, which pleases 9% of my being. I thought it would be more, but DNA doesn’t lie intentionally and it’s the best guess I’ve got. At least it means that when they crash out to Colombia (0%) only just under a tenth of me will be devastated.
Roughly twice that amount was gutted when we didn’t even make it to the finals, but the major part – 70% no less – is dutifully cheering on the Scandinavians. Now I realise they are not actually in the tournament as a team in their own right, but that is also something of a boon, because thanks to the inexactitude of the analysis I can happily include both Sweden and Denmark. It would be too much of a geographical stretch to claim Belgium as well, which is a shame, but at least, at time of writing, I’ve still got three chances for a tribal celebration in a couple of weeks.
So come on lads! Do various portions of me proud!