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by Liam Kirkaldy
09 July 2014
Tories score own goal

Tories score own goal

he TV audience for football matches used to be gauged by the power surges brought by millions across the country switching on their kettles. Last night German beer would have been a more appropriate measure.

The match – in which Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in their backyard – broke the record for the most goals scored in a World Cup game. Any hopes that BBC Two’s ‘The Referendum Debate’ would draw in an audience probably died around the third goal.

The semi-final also reportedly broke the record for the highest ever use of Twitter, with fans across the world flocking to the platform to dissect the game – and more likely mock the Brazilians.

The Scottish Football Association got in on the act, wasting no time in reacting to the result, tweeting: “Just a quick reminder that our first Euro 2016 qualifier is against Germany in Dortmund in September. Good. #naeborra.”

Scotland versus the highest scoring team in World Cup history – naeborra indeed.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Laurence Robertson made the natural jump from watching one of the most exciting games of football ever seen, to question what the result means for the England team.

In a formal motion to the Commons today, Robertson lists the repeated failure of national team across the UK, before suggesting that the solution is to liquidate the Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Irish teams and create a UK-wide one.

The motion says: “That this House notes with regret England’s early exit from the 2014 World Cup; recalls that England has not won the World Cup since 1966… that Scotland has only qualified for eight World Cup Finals out of a total of 20, that Northern Ireland has only qualified for three and Wales has only qualified for one in 1958; believes that fielding four teams from the UK reduces the chances of success and has denied World Cup opportunities to outstanding British players; observes that no other nation fields more than one national team; and calls on the football authorities in each of the home countries to come together and form one national football team covering the UK.”

Given the upcoming referendum, and the repeated, vocal opposition from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to losing their right to compete separately, the move seems very, very foolish.

In fact it comes across as if Robertson is trolling. Or, in a month that has seen claims that MI5 are interfering in the referendum, could this be the result of the SNP playing the (very) long game – sending in a party member to infiltrate the Tories and destroy the union from the inside?

Sport is tied to politics across the world – with the protests in Brazil over the decision to spend on hosting the tournament, rather than investing in health, education or infrastructure a case in point.

Much was made of the Commonwealth Games’ power to ferment patriotism ahead of the September, with some accusing the Yes campaign of taking advantage of the event – along with the Ryder Cup – as a platform to boost support for independence.

But while it is possible that the Commonwealth Games will boost a Yes vote, it seems fairly doubtful. The re-enactment of Bannockburn certainly did not seem to lead to any sharp spike in the polls.

But football is a different matter.

With a large proportion still undecided, Scots may be confused about what independence would mean for currency, pensions, and the EU – with Yes arguing that a No to independence could also mean No to the EU.

But what about the idea that a No vote will mean losing the national team? Now that would be cataclysmic.

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Read the most recent article written by Liam Kirkaldy - Sketch: If the Queen won’t do it, it’ll just have to be Matt Hancock.

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