English football chiefs react to claims they will ditch ‘arrogant’ anthem
Reports had claimed that 'Three Lions (Football's Coming Home)' could be scrapped for the 2022 World Cup
The English Football Association (FA) has denied that it will scrap the popular England national team anthem 'Three Lions (Football's Coming Home)', as claimed in sections of the national media on Thursday.
"Contrary to reports this morning, the FA still plays 'Three Lions' at major Wembley matches and has never had any intention of doing otherwise," a statement from the lead authority's spokesperson said.
"The song belongs to the fans and is about the hope of following the England team. It was requested by the FA to be played as one of our team songs at the 2018 World Cup and the Euros last summer, and this is our plan at tournaments going forward," it also clarified.
The rumors were spread by British newspaper The Sun, which claimed that the mid-90s hit from The Lightning Seeds and comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, made to commemorate Euro '96 which was the first major tournament on English soil since the Three Lions won the 1966 World Cup, would be shelved as other nations might view it as "arrogant."
For the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar, it was said, 'Three Lions' would be replaced by popular Neil Diamond smash Sweet Caroline, which is routinely played at rugby, boxing and darts events in the UK and received a popular airing after England beat Germany 2-0 in the Euro 2020 last 16.
"The FA have always countered the song’s negatives by stressing that it’s all about hope – but there’s a feeling it might be time for a change," an FA source allegedly told the paper.
“We have a great squad and a great chance in Qatar so it might be better to look forward from now on rather than back. Gareth Southgate isn’t involved in the debate but he may well have decidedly mixed memories about 1996 after missing the penalty which knocked us out in the semi," it was added of the coach's blunder in a penalty shootout to eventual winners Germany.
"Neil Diamond’s 'Sweet Caroline' was a huge hit with fans singing their hearts out at Euro 2020 and must be a strong contender now. It has nothing to do with football but it’s a great feelgood song – and has absolutely no negativity attached to it," the source concluded.
In 2021, Baddiel revealed how he suspected the FA harbored a distaste for Three Lions and feared that other footballing nations could view it as cocky.
"Neil Diamond was set up as a kind of rival during the last Euro competition," Baddiel said. "There was a thing which my manager feels was actually a conspiracy set up by The FA – they don't really like Three Lions.
"I think it's the notion – misinterpreted by many people – that football's coming home means that England owns football and we are the homeland of football. Which historically is the case. We were the first one to ratify the rules of the game. But somehow that's offensive to other FAs – like the Croatian FA or whatever," Baddiel finished.
Fears of the anthem being perceived as arrogant were not allayed by Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci changing the lyrics to "It's coming to Rome" in reference to the Euro 2020 trophy, and screaming them down the camera after the Azzurri denied England in the final at Wembley.
Asked if hearing the anthem constantly throughout the tournament had provided motivation, Bonucci, who scored an equalizer which forced penalties, answered "Absolutely."
"We heard it day in day out ever since Wednesday night since the Denmark game that the cup would be coming home to London," the Juventus center back said.
"Sorry for them but actually the cup will be taking a nice flight to Rome and that way Italians all over the world can savor this competition," the veteran teased.
To The Sun, Euro '96 idol Paul Gascoigne said that the FA had "totally lost the plot" when told the news.
"That song is in our DNA. It helped us in 1996 and it’ll help the boys in Qatar," he claimed.
"You can’t take that song off us. Sweet Caroline doesn’t come close. It would be like saying we can’t wave St George’s flags anymore," 'Gazza' protested. "This woke nonsense has no place in football. It’s just a great song."
A well-traveled England supporter who has followed his country around bragged that fans "will sing what they like and couldn’t really give a monkey’s what is ‘official’ or not."
"So expect to hear ‘Football’s Coming Home’ sung in Qatar in the stands regardless," he added. "Other nations might think we’re arrogant when we sing that England is football’s home and they’ve teased us about it in the past, but it’s just friendly banter."
Though The Sun threatened to unleash a campaign to "save the anthem," it seems such drastic action won't be necessary now that the FA has cleared the matter up.