England have more pressing battles to fight than one of hyper virtuous one-upmanship
There is, we discover, a phenomenon known as sanctimony overload. It has finally been achieved at this World Cup, after a week-long kaleidoscope of rainbow crests and technicolour armbands, with Gareth Southgate admitting, wearily, that he has more pressing battles to fight than one of hyper-virtuous one-upmanship.
It was the subject of Germanys powerful gagging gesture, and the pressure on England to follow their lead, that broke him. Southgate is a man with the patience of Job, but even he has had enough of contriving ways for his players to communicate their compassion. What do we do now? he asked. Do we all try to outdo each other?
Even his most ardent detractors must concede he has a point. For there appears little to be gained, ultimately, from merely emulating the Germans. Should Harry Kane and his team-mates all line up for their pre-match photograph against the United States with hands across their mouths, the best they could hope for would be an accusation of copycat tactics. At worst, they risk being lambasted for lacking a conscience of their own.
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