Younger Jamaicans in UK support England in World Cup
Edson Jones, a Jamaican native who emigrated to England 18 years ago, has not shied away from supporting his homeland in football and other sports.
Jones, who has backed Argentina in a number FIFA World Cup stagings since the 1970s, said, however, that he does put away with the flag of the Albicelestes for the black, green and gold whenever Jamaica are on the pitch.
After losing 1-0 to Costa Rica in February, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz were knocked out of contention for a spot in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
They were defeated 3-2 by Panama and lost 2-1 to Mexico.
While Jones is always eager to support Jamaica, he noted that many compatriot immigrants had opted to root for England, their adopted home.
“This is what has happened. The first generations of Jamaicans who have come here, Windrush Jamaicans, they remain loyal to Jamaica and the West Indies. The second generation and their children, I would say [are] semi-loyal,” he explained.
“But by the time you reach down to the third and fourth generation, they see themselves as decisively British, and, therefore, they are more likely to cheer for England than cheer for Jamaica,” Jones said.
The Windrush Generation refers to immigrants from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations who emigrated to post-war Britain between 1948 and 1971. The United Kingdom government came under a cloud in 2018 for attempting to detain, deport and deny the rights of Windrush immigrants and their children.
Fourth-generation children who were born in and grew up in England perceive themselves “as more British than Jamaican,” according to Jones, who described the transition in loyalty as the direct outcome of “a process of evolution”.
Professor Patrick Vernon, social commentator and co-author of 100 Great Black Britons, said that the England football team has had players of Jamaican ancestry since the 1970s, with players like Vivian ‘Viv’ Anderson and Laurence ‘Laurie’ Cunningham. More recently, Maverley-raised Raheem Sterling has donned gear for The Three Lions, scoring a goal in Monday’s 6-2 World Cup rout of Iran.
Sterling, who plays for English Premier League club Chelsea, was born in Jamaica and migrated at the age of five.
Vernon told The Gleaner that in the 1998 World Cup, “where Jamaica probably had the best team”, many emigrants had supported both Team Jamaica and England.
“This diaspora fan base also applies to athletics, but has not transcended to other sports like cricket, where the West Indian cricket was the glue that [bound] Jamaicans to the country like reggae music and rum,” he added.
Vernon said that he has, however, “switched off” from the tournament this year over his disenchantment with the Qatari officials regarding reports of thousands of migrant workers dying during the construction of stadia and other buildings. He’s also peeved by the Mideast country’s controversial human-rights violations such as its ban on homosexuality and the wearing of rainbow-themed, pro-gay paraphernalia.
Meanwhile, Jones is looking forward to watching football great Lionel Messi throughout the 28-day tournament.
Argentina are set to face Saudi Arabia today at 5 a.m. EST (10 a.m. GMT)
“He’s a World Cup win away from being immortal,” Jones said, adding that Messi could legitimately make claim to being the best footballer of all time once he wins this year’s tournament.
He believes the current team, with its youth and variety, is capable of making it to the finals.
Jones argued that Messi, who has never won a World Cup, no longer has to be the engine behind the team’s forward moves but brings to the table good leadership, inspiration to younger players, and a “moment of magic”.
Other key Argentinian players to watch, said Jones, are midfielder Angel Di Maria, and defenders Nicolas Otamendi and Cristian Romero.
Brazil, Belgium, and France, according to Jones, might be contenders with Argentina for the final berth.
Jones also dubbed England “a dark horse” with energetic players, noting their qualification for the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and having lost the final of the 2020 European Championship to Italy.