As i was reading the advance proofs of David Miller’s article, the World Cup was being transmitted from France and shown on British television, to huge popular interest. This spectacle offered the choice of two different kinds of national identification. Many fans in England, while supporting the English national team, were also celebrating the performances of the great footballers from rival European teams who now play for English Premier League clubs during the regular season. But at the same time, some Englishmen were in Marseilles for the match between England and Tunisia, waving the Union Jack and beating the hell out of any Tunisians they could find, as well as battling with the French riot police. Far-right political groups seemed to be the main inspiration of these rioters, as they were for the gangs of German fans engaged in more organized violence in Lens.
The emergence of these different styles of national and European identification in the important symbolic space of sport make David Miller’s equation of nation with the quest for democracy and social justice seem one-dimensional. Just as Michael Walzer has usefully distinguished between the ideas of simple and complex equality, so in Europe we now need concepts of simple and complex nationality to enable us to work out what identifications we should support....
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