THE BLOG

World Cup: It's About Team Spirit Not Nationalism

13/06/2014 11:18 BST | Updated 10/08/2014 10:59 BST

I'm not a serious football fan, but when it comes to the World Cup, I get genuinely excited. I watch as many matches as I can, keep up with the scores, place friendly bets and cheer along with fellow viewers in the neighbourhood beer garden or vie for a place in front of the open air broadcasts in over-crowded street cafes. Like the 2 world cups before, I'll be rooting for the English team and the German team. Sure, it's not so nice to see one team being crushed 4-1 by the other, but for me it's less about nationalism and much more about team spirit. I feel at home in Germany and part of this is being able to cheer wholeheartedly for the German team and can easily revel in the merriment felt by my German friends when the team has a win (albeit not the before mentioned 4-1 win) without in any way feeling disloyal to England.

For me, national pride is not a clear-cut thing. And I think this must be a feeling shared by any first- or second-generation migrant or even expat. I know so many second generation Indians in Britain who root for Murray at Wimbledon and avidly follow the English team on the football field or on the rugby pitch, but when the Indian cricket team bats up at Edgbaston - the Indian flag comes out. That's why I can't understand the discussions which question for example the loyalty and allegiance of national football players who have a mixed heritage. What does it mean when a player doesn't sing the national anthem? To me, nothing. I can't say that I have always felt comfortable in situations which have required me to sing 'God save the Queen', but I looked on from across the Channel at the Jubilee celebrations and felt homesick. I take pride in being considered the expert on all things British by my colleagues, from royalty gossip to the London riots. Since moving to Germany, I am most often viewed more as an Indian. Germany is still at a place where someone who looks like me isn't expected to have a European nationality. And that's ok. I'm just as happy to give my thoughts on the Indian caste system, arranged marriages and travel tips (although my first-hand knowledge of the tourist highlights in India is badly wanting) and answer questions on how often I cook Indian food. But these are questions I rarely get asked in Britain.

Despite all of the influences on my national identity, I carry one passport. But sometimes I feel as if I could carry three - from the country of my birth and of my parents and all its values, the country which brought me up and educated me, and the country of my husband and any children we may have together. All these nations have a special meaning to me and I root for them all in different ways.

Having said all of that, I'm reminded of a quote cited as a footer on every e-mail sent from a friend of mine: 'Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that'(Bill Shankly). With that in mind: Come on England!