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International football is boring: an ignorant opinion

Monday 9th October 2017
The recent break has re-opened the discourse surrounding international football being boring. This is an ignorant, outdated and wholly English-centric opinion.

It is, of course, okay to say that you find international football boring. However, to make a sweeping statement and labeit all boring, as many journalists have done, is lacking in awareness. It is to ignore the passion millions feel for their country and to keep one's head buried firmly under Blackpool sand.

Granted, English internationals are rarely entertaining. Despite the repeated poor performances in major tournaments, qualification is almost guaranteed these days. The Three Lions are seldom given genuine competition in their group, meaning the qualifying games are not exciting or gripping. Instead, the process is a simple formality.
Drawing Scotland provided some much-needed relief, yet those games were the only stimulation. Gareth Southgate's team are, let's face it, extremely dull to watch. This is more a problem of England's current opposition, sides which don't seek to attack but to set up shop: when a team faces a bank of eleven players desperately defending their goal, they rarely play scintillating football.

So, yes, watching England is boring, dull and a general nuisance.

However, one only has to look to the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish to discern that not all international football is painfully tedious.

Gordon Strachan's men came frustrating close to a playoff spot, drawing 2-2 against Slovenia and missing out on second place by mere goal difference; but Scotland's short-lived hope galvanised a nation and inspired millions to believe. For the Scots, the international break was something to look forward to, cherish and immerse one's self in.

Northern Ireland has already secured a World Cup playoff spot after a fantastic campaign. For a nation that boasts no super-star quality, finishing second in their group, convincingly, is truly remarkable. Michael O'Neill's side also made the knock-out stages of Euro 2016, eventually falling to Wales, in another effort of tremendous industry and team-work. Their passion is evident: Windsor Park is always full, always bouncing and always a refreshing example of fervent support. Their fans, too, look forward to watching their country play.

Finally, we come to Wales and the Republic of Ireland. The two nations meet in a historic encounter on Monday night - the atmosphere will be spine-tingling. Both sets of fans are an absolute credit to their countries and help to spur their side on with vociferous support.
The Cardiff City Stadium has been a fortress for Wales in recent years and with 32,000 men, women and children offering encouragement, there is little reason to be surprised. On Monday night the Football Association of Wales has said they will not play music alongside the anthem - a bugbear for many years as it has disrupted the song's natural rhythm and flow - and it is this commitment to ensuring maximum support that separates Wales from most.

So while your average Englishman moans at the prospect of an international break, other home nations can't wait for the next one. For them, it is a chance to see the country they love in action, fighting for a place on the biggest stage. Despite Wales and both Irish sides having recently appeared in a major competition, there remains a novelty to it all.

Therefore, please refrain from declaring international football boring, for it is only English supporters that feel this way.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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