I am often asked this question, particularly by people who know little about football. So here I have tried to explain the reasons.
1. Scotland and England are separate countries in football
Scotland and England have separate leagues, cup competitions and football associations. Until the Bosman decision, English players playing in Scotland were considered as foreigners under UEFA’s 3 foreigners limit rule for European competitions - and vice versa. English players in Scottish clubs can only play for England, and vice versa. Scotland’s record also stands up to scrutiny, having missed out on qualifying for only one World Cup finals since 1970. Scotland were also unofficial world champions in 1967, when they humiliated World Cup holders England at Wembley.
2. Football and politics are not the same thing
It’s funny how many people don’t understand this. They think: one government, one team. Since when has football been ruled by governments? Football does not belong to politicians, it belongs to the people. If a country has established its own football institutions and traditions, then WHO is to say it should be excluded? This is typical of a certain way of thinking, underlying which is the idea that governments are responsible for everything. But individuals, communities and societies have built human history, as they have built football - and governments. Governments have not created communities, nor football. The modern European-style nation state only became dominant last century, and is disintegrating in some places, or seeking to share its powers in others. So, a footballing country is not the same thing as a political nation state, and both change over time.
3. Even if they were....
If you wished to construct some kind of fascistic ‘political independence index’ to determine whether a national team was ‘justifiable’, Scotland’s 800 years of independence and separate national law and institutions would certainly place it at the top table. There is anyway no such thing as a standard definition of a nation state, there are only many different degrees and kinds of political independence.
San Marino and the Faroes may not have all the missiles and presidential jumbo jets of the USA, but if they are footballing countries, then they are just as entitled as the USA to a national team. Conversely, and particularly since the Bosman decision, the politicians could just as well argue that the EU should only have one team!
4. Scotland is only one of many cases where football diverges from politics
FIFA has 183 members, but these are not the same as the UN’s 185. Among the footballing countries which are not UN members are: Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Macao, Hongkong, Tahiti, Puerto Rico, Faroe Islands, and Netherlands Antilles, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland. Liechtenstein is a country with no league, but it is a FIFA member; while there are other footballing and political countries which are not members of the UN (eg Taiwan).
5. It’s our ball and we’re not giving it up
International football was begun by Scotland and England. The first international football match was played in Glasgow in 1872. The first football associations and tournaments were formed in Scotland and England (the Scottish Cup is the trophy which has been competed for longest on a continuous basis in the world). If you don’t like our game, piss off and go synchronised swimming.
6. We’ll be buggered if we’re playing with that lot
I think I speak for most Scots fans in saying that an all-British team would not get our support. Apart from our team being an important part of our national identity, English football has a record of xenophobia and violence with which we do not wish to be associated. So if you believe in the beautiful game, the people’s game, the world game, you are for Scotland.
ENGLAND: yet again, major crowd disorder in brussels and Charleroi, around the time of the England vs Germany EURO 2000 match. 1000+ hoolies deported by Beglian Air Force. Country disgraced and England threatened with expulsion from the tournament. Yet again, the press is full of so called England fans bleating that it wasn't their fault and that they were victimised. Aye right, where have we heard that one before?
ENGLAND: As expected, the English fans (or at least a fair number of them) again showed their worse side and became involved in extensive violence in marseille in the run up to their opening World Cup match there against Tunisia. Many arrests and enforcement of a curfew in the city (and subsequent cities where England were playing) resulted.
A newspaper reported the headline 'English Fan Held in Fatal Stabbing' shortly after the Englands elimination by Argentina in Saint Etienne. The story centered on an Englishman who was remanded in custody for stabbing a Frenchman to death. The excuse for the stabbing was 'I thought he was an Argentian supporter'! As if that is supposed to make it OK.
SCOTLAND: The excellent behaviour of the 20,000-strong Tartan Army during France 98 was officially recognised in Monte Carlo in September 1998 when long serving supporter Kevin Donnelly accepted the Per Ludos Fraternitas trophy, presented by the International Association for Non-Violence in Sport. Journalists voted the Scots the best for fair play and sporting spirit during World Cup 98.
Shortly after France '98, the following (unsigned) message was received from the Bordeaux Students Association.
"I'm a french young fan from the scottish national team. I want to gratulate the tartan Army, because you've ever sing and you have been ever happy (sorry for my bad English). You are the best fans of the world! Be ever so proud to be scots. One day, Scotland will be independant! England is just shit. BONNIE SCOTLAND!!!!!"
The headline read 'England hit by a double hammer blow by Euro football chiefs for their night of shame in Sweden' and the subsequent article explained that the English FA were fined £27,000 because of racist chants to Henrik Larsson and for damage caused to Stockholm's Rasunda Stadium.
There were 50 England football fans deported from Belgium, a National Criminal Intelligence Service spokesman confirmed. They flew to Brussels on their way to Luxembourg for Englands Euro 2000 qualifying match. They were detained and sent back to Manchester. A Belgian police spokesman said: "They were arrested because they were drunk and a menace to the public order". Not to be outdone with forays to the '98 World Cup, England fans continue the trail of shame.
England is treated to a night of widespread violence throughout the country ! Will the English press again massage away all this shame and act as if it never happened ? You have to be really thick to smash the fuck out of your own capital city !
Trafalgar square - over 200 arrests, 40 cars smashed up, 7 houses damaged
Bradford - 40 in pitched battle with police
Hull - 11 arrests
Basingstoke - 2 german tourists attacked and robbed (mind you, who would want to spend thier holidays in Basingstoke!?).
Bedford ! - 300 hoolies on rampage
Police attacked in swindon and other disturbances all over the South East of England
The caravan of the Michael Schumacher fan club was attacked and several Germans were beaten up the night before the 1996 British Grand Prix at Silverstone - is this the Englishmans way to revenge getting knowcked out of the EURO'96 by the Germans ???
England: Hundreds of fans arrested and deported as unruly fans smash up Bologna and Rimini during the World Cup.
Scotland: 25,000 Scots fans spent a peaceful time in Italy with noone being arrested during the 2 week spell.
Sweden - EURO'92
England: 1500 fans deported after riots in Malmo.
Scotland: Fans win the 'Best Supporters' award. No-one arrested. 7 Scots got married. Because of the excellent relationship built up between the Scotland and Sweden supporters during and since EURO'92, the World Cup qualifying match against Sweden in November 1996 sees the Swedish fans seated in same stand as the main core of the Scotland support. You dont see that much in England !
England - EURO'96
England: Widespread civil disturbances, cars burnt, police injured, many arrests, etc.
Scotland: 2nd place in uefa good behaviour supporters awards, fans praised by chief constable of Birmingham etc.
France - W. Cup '98
England: Widespread civil disturbances, riots (Marseille), etc.
Scotland: No arrests + best supporters award (again).
To give you some idea of who these tossers are and what they think, you can view some of their discussions on the Paul Dodd web site.
England fans please click HERE to register with the official Supporters Organisation.