The essence of Sport is competition.
So we have a peculiar situation where some of our politicians will be falling over themselves to support two teams in one competition.
Norn Iron have qualified for the European Football Championships in France next year. And so have the (Republic of) Ireland.
I daresay some LetsgetAlongerists will take this as an opportunity to parade their peculiar “I have more than one identity” nonsense.
Politics is one thing….but this is FOOTBALL for GODS sake….so there is a choice to be made. Support Norn Iron or support Ireland….but lets not have the hypocrisy of “I want both Irelands” to do well. Life is not like that. You are Manchester United or Manchester City. You are Liverpool or Everton. You are Arsenal or Tottenham.
Nobody in Football has a complicated identity.
Of course some enterprising Tshirt manufacturer might produce one that can be worn by politicians and non-sports people to make a political point…letsgetalongerism, ahead of the Assembly Elections. An accidental boost for a shared future in 2016. Pitched between the Easter Rising and the Somme.
And of course it will be safe to wear a LetsGetAlongerist tshirt in Belfast bars and watching matches on big screen TV in the grounds of the City Hall. The right marketing campaign and thiscould attract young people. An unexpected “Bread and Circus” event.
You can bet that somebody, somewhere is doing this already. Manipulation.
Yet it seems more about Politics and Social Engineering than actual Sport.
Of course the good thing is that Norn Iron and Ireland are unlikely to play against each other in France. They will be seeded on sporting grounds and safety grounds to avoid each other. Several thousand actual football fans from both sides of the border (plus a strong detachment of Nordies cheering on the Ireland) will be a contrast to scenes at Stormont and City Hall.
LetsGetAlongerists claim that the people are actually ahead of the politicians. But this is different. Football is much more tribal than Politics.
And of course you can bet there is a photo opportunity here for thousands of football fans to visit the Somme and commemorate their phoney shared history.
Make no mistake. This will be manipulated. But LetsGetAlongerists messing with History is one thing. But LetsGetAlongerists messing with Football….thats going too far.