Whoever you are, wherever you're from, whatever your faith, or none, we are all England. This is the message of the 'I am England' campaign launched today on St George's Day with less than two months to go to the World Cup.
The 'I am England' campaign celebrates the extraordinary diversity of today's support for England. The message is both positive and simple. There's none of the stop-against-anti mantra that most campaigns find themselves saddled with. Instead 'I am England' is a statement that ours is a team, and a country, for all. No qualifications are required to become a fan, no exclusions demanded to determine who can and cannot be a supporter. And of course if our next-door neighbour chooses instead to back Nigeria, Honduras , Spain or Australia thats fine too, a soft patriot all-inclusive support for England has the potential to co-exist with such an understanding unlike an English jingoism that can easily descend into a racialised version of nationalism. A key contest in what we mean and understand by 'England.' As for the Scots, Welsh and Irish nobody is expecting them to join in, nor would we expect to, they too have their own teams to support, but some of the petty-minded nastiness of those of our neighbours obsessed with the 'anyone but England' message does their cause of civic nationalism no favours at all.
The campaign by Philosophy Football and backed by football's anti-racist campaign, Kick it Out, today is launched today with an 'I am England' You Tube film:
The England fans featured in the film include those who have been to every World Cup since 1982, fans who have been to every away qualifier of the 2009-2010 campaign, home England fans who go to Wembley, fans who follow England from down the pub or from the sofa. Fans who play, fans who would be risking a heart attack if they tried. Fans who will be watching the World Cup in South Africa, fans who will be watching back home. Fans who can remember 1966, fans too young to remember 2006. Fans of clubs, fans who only watch England. All wearing the 'I am England' T-shirt. And wearing their shirts these fans all appear on a 'We are England' poster also produced by the campaign, and carried in the St George's Day edition of the Eastern Eye newspaper.
It is the 'I am England' shirt which is the centrepiece of the campaign. Designer of the T-shirt , Hugh Tisdale outlines his ambition, "We have our first 100 fans wearing them, now our aim is to reach out to all who share this passion for an England everybody can support. Theres no need for any campaign slogan, its the variety of those who will wear the shirt that says it all.'
The 'I am England' T-shirt , with free 'We are England' poster, is available from www.philosophyfootball.com