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Another Monarch, Another Act Of Mandatory Performative Patriotism

Liverpool have agreed “voluntarily” to play the national anthem ahead of Charles’ coronation.

Chelsea v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Final
You can almost hear the boos.
Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

“This mandatory and enforced symbolic patriotism will only become more extreme once football has resumed. Teams will, no doubt, try to outdo each other with their performative grief once people are back in the stadiums.” - Me, September 10th, 2022

I got a fair amount of pushback for what I wrote in September, when I highlighted the rise of British nationalism in light of the decision to postpone Premier League games following Queen Elizabeth’s (frankly overdue) departure.

Boy, I was well off the mark, wasn’t I?

Liverpool Football Club, for their part, did not overdo the crocodile tears. And the fans were largely well behaved during the world’s most awkward moment of silence. You could almost hear 50,000 Scousers telling themselves “don’t be a tit.”

Fast forward, and with Charles’ taxpayer funded coronation on the horizon, the Premier League has “requested” that clubs play the national anthem, “God Save The King” in his honor. Like with so many other aspects of symbolic patriotism, which I will not rehash here, this was never really a request. Any clubs who refused would have been lambasted in the national media.

Liverpool was put in a difficult spot. Do they play the national anthem, which will certainly be booed by the home crowd? Or do they decline?

Sadly, the club decided to go ahead and play the national anthem, which was the cowardly and corporate way forward. So now all focus will turn on the fans, who will boo (as they should), and who will be slaughtered in the national press, as they were after booing the national anthem before both domestic cup finals last year.

“It’s always best to ask the question - why does this happen? They wouldn’t do it without a reason,” Klopp said in response to the booing before the FA Cup.

“I know a few fans from different clubs see this slightly differently but the majority of our supporters are wonderful people, really smart. They go through lows, go through highs, suffer together. They wouldn’t do it if there was not a reason.”

Indeed, were journalism in better shape, if it were ask the actual pressing questions, as opposed to going along with the outrage of this particular news cycle, it would uncover plenty of reasons why the residents of Liverpool in particular are angry at the power structure and inequitable wealth distribution in the UK.

Liverpool fans do not boo the national anthem because it’s funny (though it certainly is), and they certainly do not do it without reason.

And even if Liverpool fans weren’t furious about decades of “managed decline,” they should boo the national anthem because someone should. As I alluded to last time, this push by the powers at be to create conformity and suppress criticism is dangerous and antidemocratic.

Moreover, the Premier League is not merely “England’s” but it is as international as a domestic league can be. Its teams are owned by international corporations (or human rights abusing petrostates), and populated by players and managers from all over the world.

And what of those players or coaches whose homes have been negatively impacted by the aftermath of British colonialism, to say nothing of the Premier League’s global viewership?

The pressure to play the national anthem before matches is yet another step in the progressive march of nationalism that has been gaining popularity and acceptance in the UK.

So if you can, boo and boo loudly. Maybe start a “Lizzy’s in the box” chant. Object to creeping nationalism while you still can.

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