England win the World Cup of penalty kicks for once

England won the World Cup last night, or at least that’s how it felt watching the match live and interacting with the fans on twitter. Let me guess, half of you are happy and half of you are worried that England might just go all the way and the England fans will “be unbearable”. I get it, both sentiments, I really do.

You should know that I picked England to win the World Cup. I didn’t use a system and I certainly don’t like most of the players on the team. I just looked at the way that everyone was playing, looked at Harry Kane, and said “wouldn’t it be funny if England won the World Cup?” Plus, I kind of enjoy the drama from both the supporters and the haters. I mean, come on. The whole “it’s coming home” stuff is hilarious because the first WC winner was Uruguay and because the World Cup was conceived in France and is a tournament put on by a Swiss corporation. And a lot of people in Little Britain hate the Europeans (or at least the EU). So, it’s just kind of fun to watch the whole thing unfold. From an American perspective!

That said, I’m starting to have some serious reservations about picking England. I’ve watched all their matches and they really only have one way of playing and it’s pretty awful.

This England team plays exactly how stupid people want Arsenal to play. You know how people complain about “sideways passing”? Like how the Spanish team spent too much time passing the ball sideways and not enough time making entry passes? As a result, Spain failed to create and Spain are out of the World Cup. It’s true, Spain were not nearly creative enough. But the exact opposite of that – never playing the ball in midfield – is just as weird! But that’s exactly what England are doing.

I mean, look at this!

The England plan for attack is wildly similar to the way that Stoke or any Allardycian team plan to attack: get the ball up the field as quickly as possible, but almost always down the wings. If the player can’t beat his man or if he feels any contact whatsoever, he is to immediately fall to the ground and raise his arms pleading for a foul. They do this so they can get a free kick, lump the ball in 30 yards and hope to get a shot or a corner. England created 7 of their 16 shots, plus won their penalty (so, 50%), and nearly got a man sent off, off of this style of play.

The one minor difference between Southgate and Allardyce is that this England side isn’t allergic to the ball, but only as long as it’s being shared among the back three. Maguire, Stones, Dier, and Walker (who all played in the back three) combined for 256 of England’s 578 passes. 44%. They had just 1 key pass combined while the wing players, Trippier and Young had 7 of England’s 12 key passes. An Allardycian side would just hoof the ball out every time they got it, England pass the ball around in the back.

The credit here has to go to Southgate. He intentionally picked this style of play, leaving behind English midfielders like Jack Wilshere who would help build up through the midfield. Instead, he plays Henderson who yesterday made just 33/46 passes. That’s one more accurate pass than the goalkeeper, Pickford. It’s sort of surreal watching them get the ball to Trippier or Young and then everyone converges on them and they pass the ball in weird ways to try to open up space down the wings so that they can kick in a cross.

This style of play was exactly what Colombia wanted. They have two very large center backs who can command the area. The result of all of that play down the wings was that Ashley Young had England’s only non-penalty shit on target in the game. That came in the 5th minute! And it was a dumb shot too, from wide left. Without that penalty, England played 115 minutes of football without a shot on target. That’s suboptimal.

England won the penalty thanks to FIFA’s new rules change, or not really a rules change but more of a “focus change”. FIFA has instructed referees to pay special attention to shirt pulling and grappling in the box in this tournament. It has worked great for England because Kane is such a handful but don’t expect it to come to the Premier League any time soon. In fact, don’t expect VAR or any of this stuff to come to the Premier League any time soon.

Anyway, I can’t see England winning the World Cup playing this style of football and hoping for the referees to call penalties for them. It seems like, to me, that’s not sustainable. But I guess we will see. I’m sticking with my pick (so that I can be wrong for once) but I feel like Brazil might just beat England in the final.

The last weird thing about all this is how England won on penalties. They haven’t won on penalties in a long time (they lost the last three) so this was an emotional moment for the English supporters and players and I do want to recognize that and how it was sort of nice actually.

My only thing here is that they were sort of lucky. Colombia hit the bar with one penalty and Ospina really should have saved Dire’s dire kick.

I guess Southgate has them practice pens but if that’s true he needs to have them practice more. Henderson’s penalty was awful – he placed it right in the spot where you never want to shoot it, slightly off the ground and slightly too close to the keeper. Dave did ok to save that. Dave did not do ok to save Dier’s penalty which was somehow even worse than Henderson’s – struck low but right next to the keeper.

Overall it was a pretty awful contest and there was a lot of shithousery on both sides of the pitch. I made a video of several Colombian players protesting to the referee while using their cleats to destroy the penalty spot.

And you know what I don’t want to hear ever again? An Englishman complaining about diving who isn’t also complaining about the blatant cheating of the English team. Ashley Young was dispossessed 4 times and each time he was on the ground his arms in the air asking for a free kick.

But the flopping around for free kicks is only one of the many things that England did to try to get their opponent’s sent off. I also see no moral difference between Henderson going down after he was headbutted and what Neymar did when he was stamped on.

You couldn’t have missed the Henderson headbutt but in case you did: it’s a free kick for England (surprise) and Barrios puts his head into Henderson’s chest and then raises it up. You see Henderson react to the blow with a little annoyance and then when he realizes what just happened exaggerates the contact, goes down, and spends the next 10 minutes wiggling his jaw around like Maradona on a Saturday night. I’m sure that Barrios’ headbut stung and it should have been a red card but the stamp on Neymar also should have been a red card. Both players exaggerated to get the referee to notice what just happened.

The referee had a nightmare for the first 75 minutes or so. The match was getting chippy and there were a lot of little scuffles. Both teams could be accused of falling over way too easily and neither seemed to really want to play. To top it all off, the ref gave Barrios a yellow card for the headbut and that makes no sense at all. He didn’t see the action directly (replays show him not looking at all) and VAR didn’t seem to intervene, so how did he know what happened and which color card to show?

Right, I think I’ve run out of steam for this article today, plus my neighbor is sawing up his roof and it’s really annoying. I’m going to go shoot some guns to celebrate my freedoms.

Have a great day!


Sources: Opta


  1. This was such a weird game. Not in a good way. The best thing about it was the late equalizer by Colombia. And the shot that led to the corner, I guess.

    It’s coming home is very annoying to me. I’m not sure why. I mean they should be allowed to have their fun. But it’s not funny or witty. England refused to take part in World Cups till 1950 anyway. Guess Uruguay are going to win it all. And Torreira will then sign for PSG. (Although his parents were talking about life in London and the adjustment it will be in an interview)

    Yes I agree. This is not sustainable for England. Or at least I hope not. I still remember Greece winning the Euros. And Portugal won the Euros now. So who knows. Might lead to world peace though with England winning on Russian soil?

    On that note, happy 4th of July, Tim. 😛

    1. I’ll stick up for the “it’s coming home” sentiment.

      As all shurely kno, it’s not the trophy that’s coming home, it’s football. The original song was written for Euro 96, hosted in England for the first time in 30 years, in the country where soccer was invented.*

      And I was thinking in the shower this morning how important that song was/is culturally for England. In the mid-90s, ten years after Heysel and 6 after Hillsborough, football fans were still tarnished with the image of being yobs and hooligans, and dubiously sexist “lad culture” was everywhere. Baddiel and Skinnner were part of that lad culture, and even appeared on the cover of Loaded magazine with a couple of busty models.

      So why is their song important? Firstly because it’s the opposite of triumphalist nationalism, focusing on the “thirty years of hurt” that followed 1966 as much as the trophy itself. Secondly because its massive success reveals most football supporters [and I would argue men in general] to be emotional, sentimental softies underneath all the bravado, undermining a few misconceptions of masculinity.

      More, the refrain “football’s coming home” expressed perfectly our pride and love for the game, combined with the slight disbelief that we gave something good to the world instead of colonialism, combined with the excitement at hosting the tournament and welcoming all these teams and supporters. It was a heady time.

      The song was massive in the UK but also an immediate hit in Germany, and quickly became their unofficial anthem too (they replaced “three lions on the shirt” with “three stars” for the three world cups they had won up to that point). So the sentiment resonated and ended up uniting fans across countries at a time when that was surprising to many. I think of it as roughly the beginning of an era of much lower overall levels of xenophobia and cultural nationalism in the UK. And in these times of Brexit it’s good for the English to be reminded that there ain’t no party like a world party.

      So now when people tweet “it’s coming home, isn’t it?” for me it’s a nicely evocative, knowing, self-deprecating expression of that dangerous hope and excitement that gets stirred up whenever England do marginally well in a tournament.

      Barney Ronay had a good phrase today – sport’s job is to be the most important thing of all the things that are totally unimportant and the WC is doing a great job of it.

      Well, that turned into an essay.

      *I know, the Chinese had something and so did the Aztecs, and technically the Scots properly invented football but still.

      1. Song’s actually called Three Lions, and the ‘coming home ‘ bit is the wonderful chorus. I sung it so often that year.

      2. 2 talented comedians got together and wrote a catchy tune to go with england hosting the euros in 96 and then england fucked up the euros in 96 and that song was the only half decent thing that came out of it all. The 30’s of hurt references englands shit perfromances at tournaments despite their dans deluded b3loef each time that they are good enough to win them. 30 years being thr amount of time that had passed since englands fluke against the odds win in 66. And has absolutely NOTHING to do with heysel or any of that shit. It is totally nationalistic and fed massively into the falacy that English sports teams should be going into every tournament as favourites because they are ENGLAND. And England ruled the world once and taught the world these sports.

        The song feeds the hope. And it all feeds the eventual despair. And the rest of the world enjoy it becaise England are an imperial power (albeit a faded one now) and the English are up their own arses.

        To prove that almost every english story on england is about how they are going to win it this year, bordering on ‘how they they even possibly fuck it up this time?’

        Its going to make the fall all the more sweeter for the vast majority of the sporting population of earth who take pleasure in their almost constant failure.

  2. It’s been a while since I howled with laughter — loud, prolonged and sudden — in a public place and everyone turns and gives me funny looks.

    Ashley Young’s “sh!t on target” did that. Because that’s exactly how I feel about England’s hopelessly right footed left-full back. And by the way, he committed a red card foul in extra time, but promptly fell down in fake injury. The abysmal American referee bought it. Free kick England, when the only outcome there should have been red card England.

    1. I don’t know if it was intentional, but that typo/joke reminded me of the bird poo landing in Young’s mouth.

      1. I too quite liked the Sh!t on Target (Tim should patent that, it’s so versatile)

  3. On by the way, I picked England to beat Colombia, but Im going for Sweden to bore them to death.

    Speaking just for me, I’ve got a British passport, lived there two decades, I adore the place, so Im by no means anti-English. Nor do I mind any set of fans being unbearable. Any country would go bananas if their team won the world cup. But that team, and its style of play makes it hard for anyone not emotionally invested from birth to support them. And I never have.

    I especially dislike the one-eyedness of their jingoistic media. If a Colombian player had stamped on Ashley Young’s ankle and England had gone on to lose, I can assure you we’d never be hearing the end of it from Shearer, Lineker, Winter, and rest of the lamentable tabloid newspaper crew, who lost their minds over an Arsenal Football Club gif of Mesut Ozil. Or the moronic fans who voted Ozil the worst German player in the group stages. England are an easy team to NOT support, so Im not.

    All that said, Im loving the play of John Stones, who has really grown up in the last year under Pep Guardiola. With his two goals, he’d be in a World Cup All-Star XI. I think that he, and Brazil’s Miranda, have looked the best centre backs in the tournament

    1. I like Stones and I agree the back three (not the formation so much, but the players in it) is about the most “progressive” thing Southgate can actually take credit for. Tim is right that they’re all comfortable on the ball and genuinely trying to pass it out of the back, most of the time (putting Walker in that back 3, with his incredible speed, is also a very clever move).

      But I’m also glad Tim backs up my view of the game from yesterday, i.e. that this is Pulis/Sam 2.0, with slightly better players.

      I admit to finding the “ra-ra England,” “it’s coming home,” etc, nonsense very annoying for all the reasons that people have mentioned on this article and the last. I lived in England for seven happy years and really love the country, but if anything, living there made me tire even more of the extremely one-eyed view that English footballing culture (and sporting culture more generally) takes towards their football and football teams. I know that all national sporting cultures do it to some extent (the US media coverage of the Olympics is super obnoxious), but England feels worse to me, and I felt that way before I moved there. But that’s obviously just my subjective assessment.

      Anyway, I can honestly say that if they were playing good (i.e. non-cynical, not-overly-cautious, creative, positive, entertaining) football, I’d totally be on board and cheering the loudest for them to win. I’m a footballing romantic/purist, and those of you on here who aren’t can roll your eyes at that, but one of the advantages to being a romantic is that I’m virtually unencumbered by loyalties that go beyond how the game is actually played out on the pitch. I’m an Arsenal fan because for a long time (even after they had ceased to be the most successful) Arsenal under Wenger were the most fun team to watch in England. I have zero ties to Spain but I loved every minute of their recent dominance–and to a lesser extent Germany’s–because they played beautifully (yes their games got dull, but only after teams started parking the bus for 90 minutes against them in every match). Ditto the Netherlands in 98 and 00. Ditto Argentina in 06. Ditto Colombia last time, though they were cruelly robbed of peak-Falcao for the whole tournament, and Brazil fouled James out of the match.

      The point is, while I accept that not everyone enjoys exactly the same style of football I do, I think the vast majority of fans, quite naturally are entertained by the same basic things on a football pitch that entertain me, and few fans could honestly say they want football’s tactical and stylistic future to look anything like the performance that England put in against Colombia. The sad thing is the same thing could probably be said for the other 4 teams left on that side of the draw, with Croatia perhaps our best hope for good football on that half. Personally, I’m now rooting for Belgium, though Brazil or France would also be worthy winners if they can concentrate on letting their games flow and being positive for 90 minutes and avoid letting late-stage WC caution ruin their performances (though I fear Deschamps is going to screw that one up for the French).

    2. Best CB at this world cup? Hard to make a case for anyone much better than Yarry Mina, Colombia and Barcelona B’s 194cm prodigy with 3 goals, 4.7 aerial duels per game, 89% passing, and a whoscored.com rating of 8.35. After him, I’d have to go with Uruguay’s pair of Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin. Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist deserves mention as well.

      1. Those are good (i.e. better calls), impressed as I have been with Stones and Miranda.

  4. The only thing weirder that some of the results were some of the comments and justifications given as to why certain teams should , should’ve lost/won.

    Apparently Russia deserved to beat Spain because they chose to play for penalties from minute one and Spain failed to penetrate the Russian bus,
    Also Russia advancing to quarterfinals is somehow better for football in general, never mind the country’s systemic doping and wide spread racism to the point they felt the need to appoint a token racism inspector lol.

    Japan were “unlucky “to lose to Belgium because they played the game of their lives( they did) and Belgium weren’t at their best( they weren’t)
    Never mind Hazard hitting the post and Lukaku missing chances he normally converts, or the criminal clock mismanagement by Japan throwing bodies forward in the dying seconds of regulation hoping for a winning header they never get against taller opponents.

    The highlight of England game for me was the Maguire dive for penalty which he himself waved away upon quickly consulting with his personal VAR, which was a better decision than any served up by the match referee who was just awful.
    I’ll be surprised if England get past Sweden.

    1. Yes, the claiming of the moral high ground during football matches is always a fascinating subplot. The only rule is that there has to be a clear winner. Plucky underdogs or anti-football? Did the team just get lucky or make its luck by putting players in the right places often enough?

      Arsenal, as a rule, have always seemed to end up on the wrong end of the moral high ground for the match commentators, I suspect owing to our lack of intrinsically British qualities like “bottle” which we tried to replace with “pretty passing.” Pfff.

  5. England need to crowd fund a “School for Kids Who Want to Play Soccer Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too” to improve performance from the grassroots level so that their best style of play can stop being what Tim just described, if that’s what the English really want. But for me, this style of play IS English, and I think the majority of English fans will defend it and most of them will like it. So why the howls of derision? Southgate has built a team that has embraced this identity, and the nation is embracing this team because throwing elbows from corners to score scrappy headers is not only OK, it’s awesome. I am obviously exaggerating, but my main point is: who says England has to change how it plays football?

    1. Ok, choosing to take your last question as non-rhetorical:

      I don’t know if you’re right that the majority of English fans will actually like this style or not (this being a different question than whether they’ll enjoy their team winning, which of course they will). I suspect that if/when they could look past their (entirely legitimate and appropriate) national pride/bias, many would admit that this isn’t really very good football, and if it were up to them they’d rather prefer to watch their team winning with better style. Of course, if the style wins them the cup they’ll praise it till their dying day (I wouldn’t in their position, but I’m weird apparently), but if you told them that this is the future of elite European club football, that from now on every PL and CL match is going to look a lot like England’s 2018 WC games so far, I suspect a lot of them would say “no thank you.”

      But what one enjoys and finds exciting obviously is very subjective, and I admit that my tastes in this area are, ahem, often not in line with the majority English football culture. This well established fact is genuinely baffling to me, but twas ever thus.

      But what seems much, much less subjective to me is that this English style is, by and large:
      1) unlovely,
      2) unsophisticated,
      3) uncreative, and
      4) simplistic
      I think there are largely objective measures that make this so. And I think it’s an inherent fact of life that things that are unlovely, unsophisticated, uncreative, and simplistic are, all things considered, worse than things that are the opposite.

      So England doesn’t “have to” change how it plays football. It’s not a moral issue. And in the short term it may not even be prudential, since they may get away with it by winning. Nevertheless, in the long run, it would still be better for them and every neutral if they did change how they played.

      1. To me the fun of the World Cup is seeing how each national team’s cultural identity informs how they play football. Colombia have prided themselves on, according to Asprilla in your article, “happy football.” Brazil believe in the Joga Bonito. Argentines are enamored with the “gambeta,” the death defying one man dribble from savants like Maradona. The Dutch had Total Football, the Germans have the metronomic efficiency of Die Mannschaft, the Hungarians will always remember the sweet left foot of Puskas and his Mighty Magyars, the Danes will always revere the silky skills of Michael Laudrup, and the vikings of Iceland recently formed their own identity of erecting a glacial wall of defense before their opponents. Every young Nigerian boy wants to be the next JayJay Okocha, just like every Englishman who grew up watching Alan Shearer bonk heads thinks that’s the bees knees. This is the beauty of the world cup that sets it apart from other competitions, in my opinion, although globalization will mean these styles will blend and blur even more than they already have, I intend to enjoy the stylistic differences as much as I can. I don’t think there is any danger that the world of football will significantly deviate towards an English mentality any more than I believe the English are likely to start playing O Jogo Bonito. England have their best center forward in decades, which means they can play like England again. As you pointed out, the last time they were good was in ’96, when they had another dominant center forward, the aforementioned Mr. Shearer. And why shouldn’t they embrace it and enjoy it? We may think it’s ugly but it’s their football identity, for better or worse, until they decide to change it.

  6. Have to say I really like Gareth Southgate, easily one of the more personable, likable coaches at the world cup.

    That said, per Doc, Southgate’s England is no different from Englands past, and I’ve been watching this team since the Indomitable Lions ran them close in 1990. This is an unexceptional England team, and Colombia — Colombia — provided their first proper test, which they very nearly flubbed.

    Competitive at corners and set pieces. New? No. Has anyone ever seen Alan “Elbows” Shearer play? Or Gary Cahill of recent vintage? Ashley Young is taking set-pieces, for crying out loud. Ashley Young. Why. Because he can hit free kicks, in-swinging, with his right foot from the left. And the tall fellas can attack it. That’s it. Beckham must be crying into his Hollywood herbal tea. It’s the same age old formula, the difference being that Beckham was several light years above anything any of Southgate’s players possess in dead ball skill.

    Three-quarters of the spine is good to decent, and Pickford’s save before the last corner was a thing of beauty. Pickford, Stones and Harry Kane, although, penalty apart, he barely got a kick yesterday.

    Here was a chance for Sterling to show us what Pep has taught him. Didnt. Alli. Hasn’t. Walker. Puffing like Thomas the Tank Engine after 90 minutes. Rashford is England’s equivalent of Mbappe. What’s he shown us, albeit in limited time? Lingard, yes, HE is a player.

    England has always been an ugly team. They still are. The continental influence is bringing forth managers like Pep and Poch, to make players like Stones and Trippier better, but the basic play of the team hasn’t changed. get it wide for crosses. Force corners, which they are above average good at converting.

    Mexico provided the blueprint, aggressive attack and counter attack, getting the ball upfield at pace. It was noticeable that when Colombia were forced to do that, England couldnt cope.

    1. Take the continental players out of squads like Chelsea and Manchester United, or even Arsenal, and what do you have left? And how many English players ever go abroad? England’s problems run deep and they need strong leadership and drastic action if they want their national team to be any more than this. Inevitable failure at international tournaments is always blamed on individuals, but they need to realize, like the Germans at the end of the 90’s, that the world is passing them by.

      1. Yeah, so we’re in agreement. If the world is passing them by, isn’t it a bit delusional for their press and fans to talk up how exciting this team is, and how progressive a coach Southgate is (I’ll admit he’s likeable)?

        1. It’s absolutely delusional, as I expounded in detail above. But they seem to like it that way. Southgate is progressive, for an English manager, and that in and of itself says it all.

          1. Actually I didn’t expound on that at all, that was in the Putin thread 😛

            But yeah, expectation/reality mismatch in Britain over their football is borderline pathologic, but they are not alone with this.

      1. It was. And I just want to use this moment to re-state my case of his marginal usefulness to a high level outfit like Belgium as a late game battering ram.

  7. England are as dire to watch as their homonymous midfielder. As an Arsenal fan, it really is difficult to like a team made up of Spurs players + the irritating United ones, together doing their best impression of a Sam Allardyce club.

    Still, long may their run continue. And Belgium’s! If Belgium and England make it to the final, there’s a very good chance our opening two fixtures from hell will find us meeting a City light of Jesus, Delph (meh), Stones, Sterling, Walker, de Bruyne, and Kompany; and a Chelsea light of Hazard, Cahill, and Courtois (not to mention a Spurs side that might get off to a slow start without Kane, Alli, Rose, Trippier, and Dier…could this year finally see the reinstatement of St Totteringham’s Day???).

    Hey, I know, I know, Arsenal can still find a way to lose to anybody, but I’m clutching at fine margins right now.

    1. I dunno. I guess I truly am of the older generation; Christ, I remember singing “World Cup Willie” back in 1966 while Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst demolished the Jerries at Wembley so, ipso facto… But I just hate the argument that it’s OK to be as nasty as your opponents in order to win a game; I thought the whole point was to be BETTER than your opponents. Now more than ever, holding on to some sort of moral high ground is important, if only so that we can feel good about ourselves. Not smug. Good. I find all the theatrics, gamesmanship, cheating, intimidating officials that has become such an accepted part of the modern game to be sad and depressing. A Mourinhification of the beautiful game, if you like. And if you do believe that winning is its own justification, I have a shabby excuse for a President I’d be delighted to sell you.

      1. I can imagine the joy beating someone at their own game brings. I don’t see this as a loss of morals. The problem I have with this idea is that England have never been ‘meek or naive’ or purer. They’ve just never been good enough to win. They were, barely, against Colombia. They should enjoy that. Dressing it up as them finally waking up to the dirty tricks of the foreigners, and heroically fighting fire with fire, is simply not true. The English value dirty play. We see that in the PL every week.

        1. Maybe there’s a kind of joy in it, but if you have to behave like a prat to beat someone who is a prat, that makes you a prat.

          Totally agree with your other point. England have just not had the quality over the years to win consistently. And I believe that’s a direct result of the “don’t like it up ’em” attitude that seems to be valued in the EPL, at the expense of skill and finesse. You get good at what you practice.

    2. Liew is a good writer and sometimes has some really dumb opinions. This is one.

      Tottenham are the dirtiest, snidest team in the Premier League. This article is just a continuation of the stuff from this season where Dele Alli is celebrated for his diving and Tottenham forgiven for their dirty play.

      1. Tottenham were 4th in the fair play league (4th fewest cards) last year for what that’s worth. Liverpool were 1st and Arsenal were 12th, level with Stoke and one place ahead of Man United.

  8. I love this blog but I have to say you have got it completely wrong about Football’s Coming Home. It’s possibly the best football song ever written and to understand it you need to watch a few back episodes of Fantasy Football League with Baddiel and Skinner, who co-wrote the lyrics. Here’s one from Euro96


    Even the German’s borrowed it.


    Football was coming home in 1996 after 30 years of hurt because the English did codify the first set of rules in 1863 and exported the game around the world.

    1. The Greeks invented democracy. Does that mean Greece is always and forevermore the home of democracy? The Romans invented sanitation. And on and on. Does being the inventor of something as globally pervasive and important as those things (football only marginally less so) give the progenitor nation “rights” to it? Can Italians call Italy the home of sanitation because it was invented there 2000 years ago even though in its current form it is completely unrecognizable and countless people of multiple nationalities have continued to develop it outside of Italy?

      Maybe this is a dumb example but to me it seems to apply here because I think it’s this perceived sense of ownership that rankles with those who are not English and do not identify with English traditions. Nobody is disputing the idea that the English invented the game. But, it’s annoying to hear and see them act like they own the whole thing, and the phrase “football is coming home” seems to strike that chord among a large percentage of neutrals and outside observers. Maybe you can give some more specific insight on how that is not the case so we can understand the English perspective better?

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